Gaelic Broadcasting: Issues, Challenges And The Way .

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Gaelic Broadcasting: issues, challengesand the way forward15 March 2016CONFERENCE REPORT

1IntroductionGaelic broadcasting and the media were the focus of a one-day conference organised by thedepartment of Celtic and Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University on 15th March 2016,where campaign group members, broadcasters, and audience community representativesdiscussed current issues and potential future developments. The conference was open to anygroups or individuals with an interest in the topic.Speakers at the conference included representatives of campaigning group Gàidhlig-TV, MGALBA/BBC ALBA, and experts Professor Philip Schlesinger from Glasgow University, DrEithne O’Connell from Dublin City University and Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones fromAberystwyth University.PROCEEDINGSThe conference was chaired by Dr Hugh Dan MacLennan, Soillse Research Fellow,Celtic & Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, and at the outset he thanked all thoseinvolved in planning and producing the conference and also Bòrd na Gàidhlig and MGALBA for financial support which had made the event possible.Defining the conference aims and objectives, Dr MacLennan referred to some of thequestions and challenges facing Gaelic broadcasting, and he speculated on the sort ofsolutions and recommendations which the event might produce: Developments at the BBC Official consultations and reviews National political developments: elections etc. Unease concerning broadcasting and the media in general Inadequate consultation methodology? Detailed debate towards an agreed overview and an annual event.Dr MacLennan said that the conference would also add to Edinburgh University’s researchon broadcasting, and that Dr Allan Campbell would give a summary at the end of theconference and then prepare a report of the event. Two appendices have been added to theconference report at the request of delegates: some suggestions from Duncan Ferguson,Plockton (Appendix 1, p. 13), and a paper prepared for the conference by the campaigninggroup Gàidhlig-TV (Appendix 2, p. 14). The third appendix, on pages 28–9, is a list ofattendees.The Chairman welcomed the first speaker, Michael Russell MSP.Report from Gaelic Broadcasting Conference, Edinburgh, 15 March 2016

2Michael Russell MSPMr Russell commented on the enormous progress which had taken place in Gaelicbroadcasting over the past forty years. There had been only five hours per year of Gaelicprogramming on television in 1978, he said, and although we were still not fully satisfiedwith what we have, we should consider the way forward from the position we have nowrather than be looking back.The public wishes to be engaged in new developments, he said, and one of the challenges forbroadcasters, and for Scotland, is to find a way to enable them to be so involved. Hereminded those present of the significant linkage between the inherent strength of Gaelic andof broadcasting in the language, and he observed that technical advances are creating newopportunities for both. As an example he referred to a short film which he himself hadprepared fairly quickly using only a mobile phone.Margaret Mary Murray of BBC ALBA agreed and commented that anyone could accessthis kind of technology now and publish material on such sites as YouTube.Mr Russell went on to say that another element of the challenge faced by broadcasters and thecountry is how to create opportunities to enable people to develop their ideas, and how tobring these to fruition. How are we going to realise this aspiration? Broadcasting structuresmust become more democratic, and policies must change he said. New activist campaigns arerequired!The Chairman thanked Michael Russell for his comments and he welcomed the secondspeaker, Professor Philip Schlesinger from the University of Glasgow.Professor Philip SchlesingerReminding his audience of the critical linkage which language and media have with the selfesteem and identity of viewers and listeners, Professor Schlesinger started by taking a broadoverview of the media in the United Kingdom. Wide-ranging changes – for political economic and technological reasons – are coming tobroadcast production, distribution and consumption. Indeed, they are already under way.Public service broadcasting faces major challenges, not least from new entrants: Over theTop (OTT) and Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) and the gradual loss of positionof the licence fee.The Clementi Review1 had set the scene for reshaping BBC governance and regulation,and also for how operating licences may work in the nations – of key pertinence toScotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.The BBC is partly shifting towards publisher-broadcasting in the form of BBC tem/uploads/attachment data/file/504003/PDF FINAL 20160224AM Clementi Review.pdfReport from Gaelic Broadcasting Conference, Edinburgh, 15 March 2016

3 There are questions – for different reasons – about the future of ITV, Channel 4 and STV– that is, the present PSB configuration.The consensus is that PSB is losing generational purchase and younger demographics areconsuming differently.While channels will persist, brands will be increasingly important, and how content isdiscovered, packaged and used is going to change radically in the short to medium termAllan Esslemont – MG ALBA: What is the future for public service broadcasting andexisting “broadcasting brands”?Philip Schlesinger : Changes will evolve over a long period and the position will bechallenged and influenced by viewer behaviour. As people’s media options expandbroadcasters will increasingly be challenged to find ways of retaining viewer / listenerfidelity.Maggie Cunningham – BBC ALBA: Would there be any hope for a federal BBC inScotland?Philip Schlesinger: Differing licensing systems within the United Kingdom could createserious problems. A federal BBC in Scotland would require major changes in its structureand governance.The Chairman thanked Professor Schlesinger and he welcomed Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, theMinister for Learning, Science, and Scotland’s Languages.Dr Alasdair Allan MSPDr Allan said he was an enthusiastic supporter of BBC ALBA because not only did he haveMinisterial responsibility for the service, but the organisation is also based in hisparliamentary constituency. There was a strong working relationship between the ScottishGovernment, MG ALBA and BBC ALBA, he said, and the Government wanted to providecontinuing support to Gaelic broadcasting. Working closely with MG ALBA on successful projects such as FilmG and LearnGaelic.BBC ALBA and MG ALBA adding particular value to broadcasting in general.BBC ALBA providing significant economic benefit in peripheral areas.Increased jobs, skills and training, and benefits for creative industries, the arts, sport,music, and education.Obvious benefits also for the Gaelic language, where the Government is wishing to makedevelopmental progress. Unquestionably Gaelic broadcasting is contributing toeducational development, and the use of the language in the home and in the community.BBC ALBA is also assisting Gaelic arts and promoting the language across Scotland tohomes where it would otherwise never be heard.The new BBC Royal Charter will have major implications for BBC ALBA and amongother points raised in its submission on the Charter the Scottish Government is asking theReport from Gaelic Broadcasting Conference, Edinburgh, 15 March 2016

4 BBC to provide a similar level of original programming, in Gaelic, to BBC ALBA as itprovides to S4C in Welsh. Dr Allan would welcome a move by the BBC towards parityof provision for indigenous language programming.Scottish Government wants to support BBC ALBA and Radio nan Gaidheal, and hesuggested to the BBC that they should use similar partnerships in other contexts.Scottish Government believes that the BBC ALBA service is of a very high standard anddelivering excellent value in return for the public investment, and the Minister wanted tohear differing views on how the various continuing gaps in content provision might befilled.Scottish Government believes that there would be positive national benefit fromdistributing BBC ALBA programmes more widely across networks, enriching televisionprogramming across the United Kingdom, and contributing to its cultural diversity.Scottish Government wishes that the cooperation between MG ALBA and the BBC, andthe benefits this is producing, will continue.Given that the partnership between MG ALBA and the BBC is contributing to theGovernment aspiration to increase the number of people speaking, using, and learningGaelic, the Minister wishes the service to get the resources it requires to produce a varietyof programmes of the best possible quality.As the Minister had to return to Parliament immediately he said he did not have time to takequestions. The Chairman thanked him for making time to attend the conference, and hepromised that any questions raised would be passed to the Minister.Mary Ann Kennedy: Attendees at this event heard earlier today how people’s methods ofaccessing media services are changing. To some extent this moves some public serviceresponsibility from the BBC to Government and people are being disadvantaged byweaknesses in broadband provision in some rural areas. What is the Government doing todeliver uniform broadband provision to everyone?David Brew – BBC ALBA: A question for the Scottish Government. With Gaelicbroadcasting being a microcosm of the big broadcasting challenge, what ideas does theGovernment have for alternative methods of funding public service broadcasting? Asubscription system for example?Aonghas MacNeacail – Gaidhlig.tv : (responding to David Brew) Gaelic’s problems todayare a direct result of destructive policies imposed on it over many years by successive BritishGovernments. Government has a moral responsibility to make reparation!Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones –Aberystwyth University: Given the importance ofbroadcasting to minority language development what role does Scottish Government see forGaelic in public service broadcasting?The Chairman welcomed Margaret Mary Murray, BBC ALBA, and Donald Campbell, MGALBA, to address the conference.Report from Gaelic Broadcasting Conference, Edinburgh, 15 March 2016

5Donald CampbellMG ALBA and BBC ALBA were delighted to hear people’s views.MG ALBA and BBC ALBA management have confidence in the opinions of viewers andlisteners and this leads them to believe that radio predominantly serves the needs of fluentspeakers but that the Gaelic television service has a particular responsibility to supportlearners of the language. Over and above this duty the service has also got economicdevelopment and job creation responsibilities.Mindful of the new ways in which people are now using and accessing media, Donald praisedthose who are producing Gaelic materials for social media outlets.Since its launch in 2008 BBC ALBA has suffered from inadequate funding, and this is stillthe case against the background of the tough debate currently taking place regarding thefuture of national broadcasting services. He (Donald) and a member of his Board had metwith John Whittingdale (Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport) to make the casefor Gaelic broadcasting.Donald said that when television first arrived in the Gaelic speaking communities itintroduced English into Gaelic homes. BBC ALBA now has a responsibility to reverse thatwrong.Margaret Mary MurrayBBC ALBA was established on the strong broadcasting legacy delivered by BBC Radio nanGaidheal, and Gaelic broadcasting is unique in being the only minority language broadcastingservice managed by one organisation.Margaret Mary went on to present detailed information on how its audience reacted to BBCALBA output, and with particular attention to how things had gone during 2015. Thepresentation was informed by research and evaluation which is carried out by the companyLèirsinn for BBC ALBA. New vision for a new century.Insight for viewers.Ambitious and different.What did people watch in 2015?What did they most like in 2015?Awareness of BBC ALBA in Scotland?In February 2016 83% of people in Scotland aware of BBC ALBA, and consequentlyaware of Gaelic.Radio nan Gaidheal reach to users of Gaelic?Gaelic broadcasting reach to population of Scotland?What do people watch?Gaelic viewer choice compared to average Scottish viewer.Report from Gaelic Broadcasting Conference, Edinburgh, 15 March 2016

6 Impact of the iPlayerNew digital world – social media.BBC ALBA reach compared to other minority-language channels.What people like about BBC ALBA?What people dislike about BBC ALBA?Why don’t people watch BBC ALBA – what would encourage them to view it?What else were people watching?Gaelic broadcasting network.Objectives, opportunities, and perfectionForward with confidence. Opportunities and bold progression. More comprehensive service for users of Gaelic. National impact enhancing status and normalisation. Skilled and successful Gaelic media community Lively culture in Gaelic media particularly in relation to young people. Economic benefit and employment. International market for Gaelic and our culture.Following a break for lunch the Chairman commenced the afternoon session by welcomingLisa Storey from the campaigning group Gaidhlig-TV.Lisa Storey Broadcasting is not a panacea for language revitalization, but can make a significantcontribution. Current practice with regard to BBC ALBA – the deliberate promotion ofEnglish-language programme content – is based on a misguided ideology. It is damagingto Gaelic, the language it claims to support.A set of new priorities for BBC ALBA for the period 2016-2021 is proposed. These areachievable and cost-effective. They include Gaelic voice-overs, Gaelic as an essential jobrequirement, improved language support based on European experience, optional Gaelicsubtitles and a re-evaluation of criteria for ‘success’. Are there lessons for otherminoritized languages?The MG ALBA-driven practice of burnt-in English language subtitles should ceaseimmediately. Ofcom and the BBC Trust have confirmed they are not necessary. Bestlanguage practice suggests that any optional English subtitles should be ‘opt-in’, i.e. ofthe closed variety.The Scottish Government should work towards a substantial increase in investment inBBC ALBA and Gaelic broadcasting. The current contribution of circa 13 million forBBC ALBA is miniscule in fiscal terms. Scottish Government funding should placegreater emphasis on the use of Gaelic within programming.As the global dominance of majority languages such as English strengthens, it will beever more important for minoritized languages to have places, as Dr Simon BrooksReport from Gaelic Broadcasting Conference, Edinburgh, 15 March 2016

7suggests, ‘where they can be used and enjoyed without harassment’.2 Minoritizedlanguage media have a key role to play.Mindful that a panel would be responding to questions at the end of conference the Chairmanasked that questions be held until then. He thanked Lisa Storey and welcomed Dr EithneO’Connell from Dublin City University.Dr Eithne O’Connell Minority Language (ML) broadcasting depends on the goodwill of all licence feepayers/taxpayers. It must draw its audiences from all sectors of society, i.e. ML speakersand learners, as well as passively interested or disinterested and even hostile groups, withlittle or no knowledge of the language.Laboratory research shows that subtitles can be useful language learning tools because i)they are read involuntarily (i.e. cannot be ignored), ii) they require more cognitiveprocessing than both video or audio, respectively, and iii) consequently, subtitledcontent is more easily remembered. This has positive implications for vocabularyacquisition and retention.ML programming, which offers ML audio with English-language subtitles, does notrepresent a balanced linguistic compromise because the English subtitles, whichaudiences cannot help reading, override the ML audio content, changing an ostensiblyML programme into an experience of processing primarily English-language content.Both types of subtitles have advantages and disadvantages: ML subtitles increase the MLlanguage visibility and therefore its status and prestige and can also support themaintenance and development of the ML. English-language subtitles can attract wideraudiences, stimulate interest and win outside support for the ML community.Optional subtitles in both languages may represent a better compromise although such asolution can also be problematic in relation to the issue of which language shouldfunction as the default subtitle language.The Chairman thanked Dr O’Connell and welcomed Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones fromAberystwyth University.Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones There is a need for new methods of assessing the strength of minority languages. Forexample, can food be ordered and received through the medium of the language?The numbers using Welsh, and the number of children receiving Welsh mediumeducation, are declining. Without a steady growth of numbers in Welsh mediumeducation, and Gaelic medium education, neither S4C nor BBC ALBA will growaudiences for the future.Simon Brooks (2016), les-and-the-strange-death-of-thewelsh2Report from Gaelic Broadcasting Conference, Edinburgh, 15 March 2016

8 In Wales the tightening in S4C’s budgeting has resulted in almost total loss of marketingand promotional budgets over the past few years in order to release more funds toprogramme budgets. This has resulted in the channel losing contact with, for example,children who would previously have been involved in the education projects which itused to sponsor. Minority language promotion is critical!S4C has a serious challenge as young people opt for new methods for accessing mediaand forsake traditional programming. Young people appear to prefer information to bedelivered in shorter formats.This all underlines how critically important it is to fully integrate all development strategyand activity for any minority language, such as Gaelic.S4C is a Welsh language channel and Welsh should be its principal language, as we livein a multilingual world.The language policy demonstrated by any “branded channel” will have a bearing on thebroadcaster’s image, and on the channel’s principal language.It is necessary to live through a language as Gaidhlig.tv is doing, and the existence of thiscampaigning group is a measure of language strength.The Chairman thanked Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones and he asked all the speakers toassemble as a panel in order to respond to questions. Aonghas MacNeacail would representGaidhlig.tv on the panel in place of Lisa Storey.Iain MacIlleChiar (to BBC ALBA): Why are Raidió na Gaeltachta and TG4 not availableon FREESAT, and why aren’t some of their programmes to be seen on BBC ALBA?Allan Esslemont – BBC ALBA: These services should still be available on FREESAT ifyou re-tune your receiver. TG4 is a valuable potential source of material for BBC ALBA andnegotiations are taking place to enable the purchase of the maximum amount of programmingfrom them.Allan MacDonald (to BBC ALBA): We heard from Eithne O’Connell that English subtitlesare of no benefit to Gaelic. Are you going to respond to this advice?Margaret Mary Murray – BBC ALBA: We are listening – and seeking solutions to enableviewers to have the maximum range of options. There are two sides to the issue and onesolution is not going to satisfy all. Programmes can be viewed on WatchGaelic withoutsubtitles and Gaelic subtitles are available on LearnGaelic, but it would appear that somepeople are not aware of these. There is clearly need to do more promotion of LearnGaelicand WatchGaelic.Donald Campbell – MG ALBA: Only 3 in 10 of programmes made by BBC ALBA carrysubtitl

broadcasting to minority language development what role does Scottish Government see for Gaelic in public service broadcasting? The Chairman welcomed Margaret Mary Murray, BBC ALBA, and Donald Campbell, MG ALBA, to address the conference. 5 R eport from Gaelic Broadcasting Conference, Edinburgh, 15 March 2016 Donald Campbell MG ALBA and BBC ALBA were delighted to hear people’s views. MG ALBA .

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