Gaelic TV Plans Dealt a Blow

Plans to set up a digital TV channel dedicated to Gaelic language programming were dealt a blow yesterday, with the claim that the investment required to set it up would not be justified in terms of its potential audience.

Yesterday, both the BBC Trust and broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, published their views on the proposal, which has been made jointly by the BBC and the publically-funded Gaelic Media Service.

It is being hoped the channel would be up and running by March, but a ‘public value assessment’ conducted by the BBC Trust was not encouraging. Meanwhile, the Ofcom ‘market impact assessment’ was more cheering.

Tomorrow, the BBC Trust meets to consider both the PVA and the MIA, with provisional conclusions to be published next week. But the BBC Trust won’t finally make up its mind until January, following a public consultation. The PVA will feed into a ‘public value test’.

Says the BBC Trust: “The Public Value Assessment concludes that the proposals could deliver public value. However, on the evidence currently available, the PVA suggests that the potential public value would not be sufficient to justify the level of investment proposed and recommends the Trust requests further evidence and information from the BBC Executive before the end of the 28-day public consultation period.”

Adds Christopher Woolard, head of Finance, Economics and Strategy for the BBC Trust, who led the PVA: “The evidence suggests the service would be of good quality and provide an enhanced service to existing Gaelic speakers, therefore contributing to the BBC’s public purposes. However, the PVA concludes that to justify the level of investment proposed the Trust requires more evidence from the BBC Executive that the service would offer wider value to the audience in Scotland. For example, could the service do more to attract new speakers to the Gaelic language?”