MG ALBA announces new strategy to ‘transform’ Gaelic media impact

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MG ALBA has published a five-year strategic plan aimed at transforming the contribution of Gaelic media.

Key objectives of the plan include initiatives to effect a major step change in the involvement of young people in Gaelic media and to develop a wider range of learning platforms.

Partnerships with other Gaelic organisations are central to the new strategic plan. Maggie Cunningham, chair of MG ALBA, said it laid the foundations for a new era in Gaelic media.

MG ALBA operates BBC ALBA in partnership with the BBC and also LearnGaelic.scot and FilmG, the Gaelic film competition.

“BBC ALBA is a relatively young but highly successful channel and is already a noted and accepted part of the Scottish broadcasting landscape”, said Ms Cunningham.

“Although Gaelic is a minority language, BBC ALBA continues to reach a wide and diverse audience, including substantial numbers of people viewing online via the BBC iPlayer.

“With such a breadth of support, there is opportunity for growth despite the continuing challenges we face in relation to funding. We remain fully committed to exploring all options to ensure that funding is maximised in future years.

“BBC ALBA is a key component of Gaelic media, however it is not the only component. The success of the channel offers significant opportunities for MG ALBA to expand the impact of Gaelic media and the service they offer the core audience.”

The MG ALBA media strategy will focus on strategic initiatives including:

Learning: creating new multi-platform learning content, building on the highly valuable asset that is LearnGaelic.scot.

Children: new brands for pre-school and primary school age.

Digital media: initiatives to encourage and embed user-generated content and to develop Gaelic writing for screen.

MG ALBA is partnering with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Comhairle nan Leabhraichean, Comunn na Gàidhlig, Stòrlann Nàiseanta na Gàidhlig and Fèisean nan Gàidheal, as well as other organisations, on its initiatives.

Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages, said: “MG ALBA has quickly established itself as a distinctive voice in Scottish broadcasting and is at the forefront of efforts to support the Gaelic language community and its future generations.

“This strategy for Gaelic digital media is a welcome addition that will strengthen efforts further as we seek to empower our Gaelic community and secure a bright future for Gaelic.”

Donald Campbell, chief executive of MG ALBA, said: “The strategy delivers our assessment about how Gaelic media can best contribute to Gaelic revitalisation, and the steps required in order for that potential to be realised.

“It is clear that through partnership we have a unique opportunity to inspire and encourage the next generation through Gaelic and media.

“We have already seen how FilmG participants have used that competition as a springboard to not only enter the creative sector but also help build a positive image of Gaelic in modern Scotland.

“However, we cannot stand still. We need to further develop the assets at our disposal to ensure that Gaelic can continue to play a vibrant part in Scottish society but can also aid the education and skills of young people whilst helping to create economic value.

“We need to enact that strategy within the new digital age. With Census 2011 showing elements of growth in the proportion of young people speaking Gaelic, and other media data showing that this age group is the lowest consumer of TV content, it is essential that this demographic is self-motivated to create, share and enjoy their own media content in Gaelic.

“This area is arguably one of the most important elements of the digital future for Gaelic and yet it is one in which institutions such as MG ALBA must necessarily have a ‘light touch’ role in encouraging participation, in order to ensure that growth is authentic, sustainable and grassroots-led.”

MG ALBA announced its strategic plan following a year in which all elements of Gaelic media - BBC ALBA, LearnGaelic.scot and FilmG - continued to perform strongly.

MG ALBA said it was committed to ensuring that the channel’s success is aided by a drive to make Gaelic content available outside of Scotland.

Mr Campbell added: “We are ambitious for the growth of the Gaelic media supply sector. One aspect of our development strategy for the supply sector is internationalisation, whether it be exporting our own content or engaging in international co-productions.

“We are committed to working with other agencies to ensure we adopt the correct strategy for this aim. MG ALBA will seek to create partnerships with other broadcasters, UK and non-UK, to create both scale and different market opportunities that can aid everyone within Scotland’s creative industries.”