This appeared in today's Press & Journal......
MSPS IN CALL FOR HIGHER QUALITY GAELIC BROADCASTS
Press & Journal.19 December 2001
PROGRAMMES on any dedicated Gaelic-language channel should be of the same
quality as broadcasts in English, according to a Scottish Parliament
The education, culture and sport committee issued a report yesterday calling
for a "transitionary body" to be established to lead the way to a channel
devoted to broadcasting in Gaelic.
But MSPs on the committee concluded that an existing broadcaster should set
up the body, rather than the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee, or Comataidh
Craolaidh Gaidhlig (CCG), which manages the Gaelic Broadcasting Fund and was
the subject of the inquiry that produced the report.
The report welcomes the contribution made by CCG over the past decade but
affirms that broadcasting has changed enormously since it was founded.
Education committee members warned that there should be no stinting on the
quality of broadcasting, while the emphasis should be on originally produced
CCG stated that the report was, in the main, a "less-than-helpful" addition
to the debate on Gaelic broadcasting and claimed it contained
"inconsistency, inaccuracy, and unsubstantiated assumption".
CCG alleged in particular that the report made unwarranted personal attacks
on its director, John Angus Mackay.
The education committee also wants to see proposed legislation for a Gaelic
channel included in the forthcoming Communications Bill at the UK
Parliament. Broadcasting is a matter reserved for Westminster.
The Scottish Executive now has eight weeks in which to respond to the
Education committee convener Karen Gillon said CCG and those it had funded
had made a "highly positive impact on Gaelic language, culture, education
and society", but added there were weaknesses in the current structure in
terms of operation and strategy.
"The work of the CCG has been hampered from the outset as the Gaelic
Television Fund was not index-linked, meaning that the amount of money
available for programming has been decreasing in real terms each year.
"The CCG's difficulties have been exacerbated by not having the power to
schedule programmes themselves, something that continues to be reserved to
"That is why a new strategic approach is needed and we recommend that a
transitionary body be established, drawn preferably from one of the existing
broadcasters in Scotland, to deliver high-quality and relevant Gaelic
broadcasting for the 21st century."
The committee said Gaelic once had better coverage than Welsh, Irish Gaelic
or Breton, but was now lagging behind as those languages now all had
dedicated, full-time channels.
Donald Martin, acting chief executive of Gaelic agency Commun na Gaidhlig,
said his organisation's policy on broadcasting was in line with the findings
of the Milne Report.
But he was concerned that, if the setting up of a transitionary body was
left to existing channels, it might mean no change in the approach to Gaelic
sonas is adh ort,
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