BBC Trust approves BBC ALBA carriage on Freeview

The Gaelic-language service BBC ALBA will be available to viewers in Scotland on Freeview, following approval by the BBC Trust today as part of a review of the service.

In a statement the BBC said that the review looked at how well the channel is serving Gaelic speakers, how well it is attracting new and non-speakers, and how it should be made available to audiences in the future. Continuation of the BBC ALBA service was dependent on a successful review by the Trust. The review included a public consultation which drew over 5,000 responses.

Overall the Trust has concluded that BBC ALBA is performing well and achieving its aims.On Freeview carriage, the BBC Executive explored and ruled out a range of possibilities for making BBC ALBA more widely available. For example, buying spectrum was ruled out due to the prohibitive cost. The removal of a red button stream or BBC Parliament from Freeview was also ruled out due to the likely loss of significant public value. Distributing BBC ALBA on broadband as an alternative to Freeview was ruled out due to relatively low broadband take-up and slow broadband speeds in Scotland, particularly in the Highlands and Islands.

BBC Trust Chairman Sir Michael Lyons said; "The question of how to make BBC ALBA more widely available to licence fee payers in Scotland is a good example of the wider issue of distribution choices which we have been grappling with as part of our recent Strategy Review—how the BBC should best reach audiences as platforms increase. Through the Strategy Review we've committed the BBC to doing more to ensure that its services can be conveniently accessed by all audiences, and doing more to represent the nations. Enabling BBC ALBA to be carried on Freeview is a key part of that commitment."

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