MG ALBA today (Wednesday) underlined its commitment to Scotland’s creative industries following the announcement by the Scottish Government of an additional £2.1million for BBC ALBA to drive forward its programme making.
The First Minister, Alex Salmond announced the extra funding which will support the production of new programmes as he officially opened the organisation’s new headquarters at Seaforth Road Stornoway.
The opening of the new offices and studios of MG ALBA, BBC ALBA and BBC Radio nan Gàidheal marks the historic preservation of the building which was originally a Harris Tweed mill that served the industry at its height and which has now become the ‘media hub’ for the Western Isles.
Following the announcement, MG ALBA said the BBC ALBA partners were committed to strengthening the channel’s programme-making capability and the creative industries that support it. MG ALBA has been instrumental in the development of a new Gaelic drama, ‘Bannan / The Ties That Bind’, which will air on BBC ALBA later this year and which was produced by Skye-based Young Films with support from Creative Scotland.
The increased resources dedicated to programme-making reflects the strongest-ever performance of BBC ALBA in 2013 and recent success at the Celtic Media Festival.
MG ALBA will enter three year production deals with six independent production companies that will allow the production companies and the channel to work together to support the language, grow the Gaelic media talent base and provide a firm foundation from which the sector can work to increase its competitiveness in other markets.
BBC ALBA will also share in the significant additional BBC investment being made in programming on the Commonwealth Games, the Referendum and the Centenary Commemorations of World War I, with around 30 new hours of content either in production or in the pipeline for the channel.
The BBC is also committed to increasing the value of its contribution to the channel through the exploration of co- commissioning and rights benefits within the BBC so as to add impact and value to BBC ALBA.
This should result in additional quality content for the channel.
During the Scottish Cabinet’s visit to Stornoway, the First Minister was updated on the thriving creative sector in the Western Isles which has been enhanced over the last five years with the creation of BBC ALBA in 2008 and the subsequent economic contribution provided by MG ALBA.
Currently 75 per cent of MG ALBA’s total programme expenditure is spent on independent production companies located throughout Scotland, supporting 288 FTE jobs across the country. Of these, 95 FTE jobs are located in the Highlands & Islands, with more than 80 of those 95 positions based on the islands.
Maggie Cunningham, chair of MG ALBA, which operates the channel in partnership with the BBC, said: “MG ALBA partners are dedicated to the growth of BBC ALBA and producing high quality Gaelic programming.
“We have worked diligently over the last five years to create a successful channel that has grown vastly in viewership and appealing to both Gaelic and national audiences and today’s funding announcement allows for further development of channel content going forward.”
First Minister, Alex Salmond, said: “I am delighted to open these new facilities which will be an important boost to the local economy, to the broadcasting industry and to the use of Gaelic both in the Western Isles and throughout Scotland.
“Scotland is enriched by the existence of different cultures and languages including Gaelic and this Government is committed to creating a sustainable future for the language.
“BBC ALBA plays a key role in promoting the speaking and learning of the Gaelic language in Scotland.
“The Scottish Government has made clear its ambition to develop broadcasting and media industries in Scotland and the £2.1 million in new funding will enable MG ALBA to progress and to build on its recent and impressive success.
“This new centre has a critical role to play in developing capacity and helping to achieve that ambition.”
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About MG ALBA
MG ALBA is the operating name of Seirbheis nam Meadhanan Gàidhlig (Gaelic Media Service). MG ALBA works in partnership with the BBC to deliver BBC ALBA. Find out more about MG ALBA and the partnership at www.mgalba.com.
BBC ALBA is available on the following platforms:
- Sky 143 (UK)
- Freeview / You View 8 (Scotland only)
- Virgin Media 161 (UK)
- Freesat 110 (UK)
- BT Vision 8 (Scotland only)
- Smallworld 170 (Ayrshire and North West England)
- BBC iPlayer
Visit www.bbcalba.co.uk for scheduling and programme information.
BBC ALBA’s weekly reach in Scotland increased by 26 per cent in 2013 to a weekly average of over 700,000. There were 5.8m iPlayer viewings of BBC ALBA programmes in 2013, a growth of 68 per cent over the previous 12 months. Approval and awareness were at their highest ever level for the channel in 2013.
The independent companies entering production deals with MG ALBA are:
- Bees Nees Media Ltd http://www.beesnees.tv/
- Caledonia TV http://www.caledonia.tv/
- mactv http://www.mactv.co.uk/
- mneTV http://www.mnetv.tv/
- Obh Obh Productions http://www.obhobh.co.uk/
- Solus Productions http://www.solusproductions.tv/
BBC ALBA picked up awards for best entertainment show, for comedy Dà Là san Dàmhair, and best app for the new LearnGaelic App, at the Celtic Media Festival 2014 http://www.celticmediafestival.co.uk/winners-2014
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Contact: Gary McQueen