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MG ALBA looks to BBC to fulfil settlement agreement on extra hours

15 March 2019

MG ALBA has today (Friday 15 March) congratulated the BBC on the successful launch of its new channel and warmly welcomed the new opportunities for the production sector that lie ahead.

But the organisation that operates Scotland’s Gaelic-language television channel in partnership with the BBC has called upon the corporation to ensure that BBC ALBA has the same opportunity to shine as the new BBC Scotland.

Ten years after its launch, BBC ALBA is severely challenged by a 75% repeat rate, whilst 50% is the expected limit for BBC Scotland; and is available only in standard definition (SD) on television.

BBC ALBA has built a strong reputation for creating original, distinct, and inspiring content and has been a major media success story in Scotland since its launch a decade ago.

The channel has helped significantly boost Scottish creative industries, with a thriving media industry sector across the country. It has also given a real voice to some of the country’s freshest music talent and created a platform for professional women’s sport to be seen on terrestrial TV.

MG ALBA has called upon its BBC partner to ensure that BBC ALBA enjoys the same opportunity and quality of provision as the new channel, and looks forward to a clear timeline for delivery of the new Gaelic programming promised at the announcement of the new service.

Allan MacDonald, Chair of MG ALBA, which operate BBC ALBA in partnership with the BBC, comments:

“We warmly congratulate our colleagues at BBC Scotland on an outstanding launch and we continue to wish them well as the channel comes to life in the months ahead.

“However, the launch of BBC Scotland has also served to shine a light on two significant concerns for the board of MG ALBA around the delivery of BBC ALBA, which has an unacceptably high 75% repeat rate and is still only available in SD on television. The BBC has committed to delivering 100 hours of additional content, and we look forward to this being delivered.

“At a time when other public service broadcast channels such as BBC One, STV, and the new BBC Scotland have adopted high definition (HD) as the ‘standard’ for TV delivery, it is a source of major concern that BBC ALBA is seen as a poor relation available on television only in SD.

“Put simply, it is not acceptable for the viewers of BBC ALBA to receive a second-class service in terms of picture quality.

“Whether it is powerful documentaries, thrilling live sport, the best break-through music channel or our seven-day news service, our viewers deserve to be – quite literally – getting the best picture. For us, this – and growing the hours of first-run programmes on the channel – is a major priority.

“On both counts, we look forward to our BBC partners making a clear committment to a timescale for delivery.”