Gaelic broadcasting gets funding doubled

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The UK Government has announced a £1 million increase in funding to MG ALBA from 2014-16, doubling the overall contribution to £2 million.

The announcement was made by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, whilst on a visit to the Western Isles.

This additional £1 million is being made available this year (2014-15) to support MG ALBA in producing high-quality Gaelic language content, including original dramas, and continue providing a valued service for Gaelic speakers in Scotland.

It builds on last year’s announcement by the government of £1 million for MG ALBA in 2015-16, demonstrating the UK government’s sustained support for minority language broadcast services.

MG ALBA will use the extra funding to build on the success BBC ALBA has already achieved since it was established, reaching over 750,000 viewers a week on average.

Over 80 people from the independent production sector, the BBC and MG ALBA work at the MG ALBA campus in Stornoway, broadcasting and producing Gaelic language programmes.

Danny Alexander said: “I am delighted to be able to announce another £1 million of funding for MG ALBA this year.

“Last year, I announced the first UK government funding for this service, to help them invest in quality Gaelic language drama.

“MG ALBA came back to me earlier this year, to say they could get this work going more quickly, and I am delighted to be able to give a positive response today.

“The Gaelic language is an important part of the cultural heritage of this country, so it is right that the UK government should help.

“This is an illustration of how Scotland has the best of both worlds – the UK’s broad shoulders coupled with devolution allows real investment in public services and the flexibility to spend it where it is needed,” he continued.

“As someone who grew up in the islands, I know how important Gaelic language TV and radio is to the thousands of Gaelic speakers who live here and around the UK.

“I started my childhood on the island of Colonsay, and then spent a couple of years in South Uist, where I was surrounded by Gaelic in the playground.

“At Lochaber High School I passed O-Grade Gaelic and like many of my contemporaries I now wish I had tried harder to speak it.

“The importance of quality Gaelic television in the revival of the Gaelic language cannot be overestimated.

“For Gaelic-speaking communities as well as the growing number of children being educated in Gaelic-speaking schools its existence is vital.

“The UK’s rich mosaic of culture and language is one of its great strengths, and Gaelic, Scotland’s oldest indigenous language, should be cherished and nurtured by all those of us who value the rich diversity of our country.”

Maggie Cunningham, chairperson of MG ALBA, which operates BBC ALBA in partnership with the BBC, welcomed the additional investment in the channel.

She said: “It is very reassuring to see continuing support for Gaelic and BBC ALBA from across the political spectrum at both Scottish and UK levels.”

Pictured are Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and Chief Executive of MG ALBA Donald Campbell.