SIR, - The South of Scotland is not a Gaelic speaking part of Scotland, nevertheless in June this year we had to retune our Freeview tuners when BBC Alba became available.
Just a nuisance I thought, although I enjoy listening to live Gaelic singing. Last month however, I started to record programmes, having spotted in the on-screen seven day programme list, highlights from a music festival. Also I know people who watch football matches not available on other channels.
A recent festival was Belladrum 2011 on August 5/6, which took place at Beauly, 12 miles west of Inverness, not a Gaelic speaking area! The links were all in Gaelic with some English subtitles (not everything was translated), the interviews were all in English because the band members were mostly (perhaps all) not Gaelic speakers, and the songs were all in English (some of the bands operate internationally).
The line up included Deacon Blue, Texas, and possibly less well known but no less worth listening to, Dangleberries, Guillemots, and Emeli Sandé who has an incredible and beautiful voice.
So why is an apparently Gaelic channel producing such programmes with no obvious connection to Gaeldom? Can it be that there is more funding available than can be used on Gaelic programming? BBC ALBA is funded by MG ALBA, which in turn is financed by the Scottish Government and BBC Scotland.
‘Alba’ is the Gaelic word for Scotland so is this more a ‘Scottish’ channel? Why then is it not more inclusive, by which I mean only using Gaelic in a programme if it is to be a major part of the content? I have sent this letter to all constituency and south of Scotland list MSPs for their response on this issue.
John Lamont MSP is raising this with ‘the BBC and the Government’. Some have said they will respond in due course. Another said ‘my principle concern over BBC Alba is that it has deprived many of my constituents of their only access to a number of radio programmes for which they relied on digital reception’. One in the west of the south of Scotland has replied criticising me and saying he is ‘picking up’ Gaelic from the channel.
Are other ‘Berwickshire’ readers watching this channel and what are your views?