New BBC ALBA schedule unveiled to mix of praise and warning

THE Gaelic language digital TV channel, BBC ALBA, has been described as a “very solid platform for continuing success”, whilst being warned against possible ‘audience fatigue’.

The comment was from chair of one of BBC ALBA’s partners as the channel’s autumn season was being unveiled.

In a media statement, Maggie Cunningham, chair of MG ALBA which operates the channel in partnership with the BBC, is quoted, as saying: “Since BBC ALBA’s launch four years ago, the channel has gone from strength to strength. The range of high quality programming and the wider accessibility of the channel on Freeview has led to a situation where we attract around 500,000 viewers each week. This is unquestionably a very solid platform for continuing success.

“The channel now makes a significant contribution to Scottish broadcasting and all the people involved should be very proud of the results of their hard work. The challenge now is to take the channel forward and continue to make attractive programmes.

“We will need to invest to create the programming our viewers want to see but it is not a question of holding out a begging bowl and simply asking for further funding. We must engage with all the partners we work with to explore ways in which the channel offering can be enhanced.”

And in coverage today in The Herald, Cunningham is quoted by arts correspondent, Phil Miller, as also saying: “Success always brings its own challenges, and I think the biggest single challenge we face at BBC ALBA moving ahead is resource: how are we going to have enough originations, enough new and interesting content to keep our audiences onside? We are already just beginning to see a little bit of audience fatigue, but we have great goodwill, we have high audience approval in our core Gaelic speakers, and in Scotland, and we have had a lot of recognition of the the quality of MG ALBA, but it is going to be very hard to hold that audience over the next four years.”

Among the highlights of the new season is ‘Lorgan Linda: Linda’s Story’, which follows John and Lorna Norgrove on a visit to Afghanistan, where their daughter, Linda – an aid worker – was killed during an attempt by US troops to rescue her from kidnap.

Says BBC ALBA: “The programme moves from recollections of John and Lorna’s darkest hours to their mission to set up the Linda Norgrove Foundation, continuing humanitarian projects in Linda’s name which culminated in their journey to Afghanistan, accompanied by BBC ALBA cameras, in March.”