MG ALBA funding boost to expand Stornoway ‘media hub’

ONE half of the Gaelic language TV channel, BBC ALBA, has received a funding boost, partly to expand a ‘media hub’ in Stornoway, in the Outer Hebrides.

Scottish Government-funded MG ALBA is to receive an additional £350,000 on top of its existing budget, with £50,000 of it going towards additional programming on BBC ALBA.

The remaining £300,000 is to be spent on improving the existing media hub home of MG ALBA, so that it can also be home to local BBC operations and more independent TV production companies than currently.

The 2013/14 budget for MG ALBA from the Scottish Government is £11.8 million. Its fellow partner in BBC ALBA is the BBC.

The additional funding is from the Scottish Government and the news was announced last night at the Royal National Mòd, which is taking place in Paisley, by Minister for Scotland’s Languages, Alasdair Allan.

Dr Allan is quoted in a Scottish Government media release, as saying: “BBC ALBA’s viewing figures among Gaelic and non-Gaelic communities have continued to build and have long been an encouraging indicator of the interest in the language – even before the latest census figures showed that the decline in speakers has been dramatically slowed.

“This commitment and ambition of the board and staff of MG ALBA and BBC ALBA is paying off. When it launched on Freeview in 2011 BBC ALBA had an audience target of 500,000 but is now regularly reaching an audience of 600,000 each week. On top of that, more than 4.1 million views of BBC ALBA programmes were watched on iPlayer during 2012-2013, an 86 per cent increase on the previous year.

“MG ALBA has achieved some impressive milestones and I know there are ambitious plans going forward for the development of more quality drama, an increase in children’s programming and continuing to be a champion for documentaries, music and sports that this investment will support.”

MG ALBA is not only involved in BBC ALBA but also the FilmG short film competition and the website, both of which will also benefit from the £50,000 of additional budget.