It appears that Scots with Freeview are being denied the opportunity to listen to radio on their tv sets after 5pm, and all because the BBC has chosen to broadcast the tv channel BBC Alba from that time at in the evening.
Limited band space means that there is not sufficient capacity for the BBC’s 13 radio stations to be broadcast at the same time.
“I’ve had”, says Ms Dugdale, “people say that they can no longer listen to the News Quiz, or this is how they get their classical music or their sports coverage. And they feel aggrieved because the licence fee is the same as it was 2 months ago” (before the BBC’s decision).
She goes on to say that she believes that the BBC should recognise that times have changed (although I’m not entirely certain what that has to do with the matter of Gaelic broadcasting, or the fact that some people listen to sport on their televisions). She fears, somewhat mystifyingly, that Scotland may be left behind if the population cannot listen to the News Quiz on their television sets. Left behind what or where, she does not say.
Ms Dugdale has written to no less a personage than Chris (now lord) Patten, who replied telling her the BBC Trust has decided that this was the most technically and financially viable way of enabling BBC Alba to be carried on Freeview.
He rather pointedly added that radio stations could still be listened to on radios after 5 pm.
I’m wondering, given that broadcasting is an issue reserved to Westminster, why Ms Dugdale did not direct these “numerous” complainants to their local MPs who represent them in the parliament in England which has power over these matters.
It seems that the BBC is unlikely to back down from its stance, given that Patten suggests that carrying Alba on Freeview will result in an increase of between 70,000 and 111,000 viewers, while only 50,000 radio listeners will be affected. And so, as well as Mr Patten’s advice that radio programmes can still be listened to on radio (purchasable for as little as £2 in Tesco), I can offer some comfort in that these programmes can also be heard at any time on-line, on many cell phones, and as a special sop to those who cannot bear to hear the News Quiz anywhere but on television, the programme, when being broadcast, can be listened to on Saturday at 12.30pm, well before Alba starts, and therefore, on tv.
It seems to me small minded and selfish to object to those among us who speak Gaelic having television in their own language when there is such a plethora of English language broadcasts on such a wide range of stations, receivable on a variety of equipment and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But some people have just got to have everything.
I’m surprised that MSPs don’t have more important things to occupy themselves with.