back to article BBC pumps 60 quid a head into Gaelic

The BBC's Gaelic-language channel, BBC Alba, has seen its audience drop by a third since launch, with further drops expected as Scottish politicians desperately try to be seen doing something about the death of Gaelic. The channel started four months ago, with more than 600,000 viewers, a total that has already dropped to 400, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Hang on a mo...

    ...wouldn't the beeb be better off trying to promote the use of English on TV?

    Getting well and truly tits'd off with all the bloody Mockney being spoken on TV these days.

  2. Joe
    Thumb Down

    Statistics or damn lies?

    No channel just says "we have X000 viewers" - the figure is meaningless! How many viewers does each programme get, that's the important figure. Do they get 200,000 constantly? No, of course not - as Bill Ray points out, that's probably just the figure for the football, I'd be surprised if the rest of the output had even 50,000 viewers.

    The government massaging the figures? Surely not!

  3. Nigel Callaghan

    Viva BBC Alba!

    Hey, I love BBC Alba - and I don't speak Gaelic. One of the best channels on telly. The programmes are a hell of a lot better than the rubbish on 99% of the other channels on satellite. £60 a head is a bargain. Face it, even Gaelic soaps with subtitles are better than seeing the same episode of Friends/Poirot/2 Pints of Lager for the 53rd time in a month.

    Of course, we could all watch their excellent programmes that teach Gaelic and then it wouldn't be a threatened language. (Interestingly, I believe there are more people speaking Gaelic on a daily basis than speak Irish - which is an official EU language. )

  4. Efros
    Thumb Down

    I've no doubt

    that the sports viewers will be indulging in their own version of simulcast, with a radio commentary from an English speaking radio station being played while a muted TV is watched. Gaelic programming, and BBC Scotland's pissing about with schedules has been the bane of the viewing public's life in Scotland for decades. If it isn't about sport or politics (Scottish politics, mind you) then it can't be important. AS a qualifier on the sports statement the only sport recognized by the west coast dominated BBC Scotland is Fitba' or anything that England has been beaten in, so of the 30 minute Reporting Scotland 10-15 minutes is given over to sport, in reality 10-15 minutes is given over to football.

  5. Mr Grumblefish

    Someone with money?

    Big demand for Chinese language in the highlands then.

  6. Neil Hoskins
    Black Helicopters


    According to Neil Oliver's excellent documentary series on the history of Scotland, around the time of James the First (of Scotland) the split was about 50/50 Gaelic/Scots, so why isn't there nearly as much fuss made about preserving the Scots language? I suppose there's all the Burns societies, but he was just one Scots speaker amongst many.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. goggyturk
    Thumb Down

    Wrong metric? Definitely wrong target

    I'm afraid you're mistaken as to the mandate of the BBC. That's the reason why we have a licence fee in the UK, so that minority interests can be properly represented on TV and radio. By the standards you judge this channel on, how many other BBC productions lose money 'per head'? I'd bet that cash cows like Doctor Who are keeping large bits of the empire going at the moment.

    If we judge the value of culture by pure profit and loss, when profit isn't the main driver and the system is already set up to carry that loss, then you end up with a non-argument like this.

    And I'd also bet that this £15 million is a drop in the ocean compared to some of the other crap the BBC churns out. Isn't that Jonathan Ross' wage bill for a year? How much does Lily Allen get paid for 'Lily and Friends'? Do I have to go on?

    PS - I wouldn't put much value on a report from the Times on anything from North of the Border. Jock bashing is a favourite hobby of News International, in particular the "benefit dependency" myth.

  9. Andrew Moore

    If they talk to TnaG here in Ireland...

    maybe they'll sell them the gaelic dubbed versions of Spongebob Squarepants and Southpark.

  10. David Neil

    Not exacty a surprise

    I can remember working at the beeb up here about 5 years ago and a large chunk of the senior management in scotland were pretty much all from the western isles.

    they didnt half get upset when you asked why they didnt do pogrammes in urdu, more people in scotland list that as a language thy can speak ;-)

  11. Colin MacLean


    More people speak Hindi in Glasgow than there are Gaelic speakers in the whole of Scotland.

    Where's their publically-subsidised TV channel? I'd love to see more Kabadi on the telly, anyway...

  12. Anonymous Scotsman

    anti-patriotic vitriol

    It's ridiculous job fabricating efforts like this which justify my refusal to own and operate a device for the reception and interpretation of analogue television broadcasts.

    Gaelic and neo-pagan druidism should be left alone, on the isle of Skye where they cant hurt anyone.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Gaelic is only slightly more pointless than...


    /runs for cover

  14. Tom Paine

    "PC gone mad"

    I'm with Stewart Lee on this one.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Caff


    We have something similar in Ireland for the promotion of the Irish language, I think the biggest draw for viewers is ladies gaelic football and a soap called Ros na Run. Also get some quite bizarre european films shown late at night.

    Strange thing is the channel is quite a boon for small production companies to get funding, it makes a good outlet for creative talents that would otherwise not get a look in to the bigger channels

  17. Jedi Name Germinator

    BBC Poland...

    ... broadcast just in Edinburgh - I'm sure they'll get a lot of viewers then !

  18. DT
    Thumb Down

    Where's the Scotiski, or Scotistani channels?

    More people in Scotland speak Polish, Urdu, Italian, or indeed highschool level French or German...why aren't they being served?

    Anyone seen the hilarious "Scots" version of wikipedia? Sparse beyond belief; rife with inconsistant, nay invented, spelling*; whilst the language is ideal for Burn's poetry and Oor Wullie, it doesn't work when describing technical concepts; many of which appear to be beyond the ken of the scribes involved.

    *deliberately bastardised to make it "diferynt"

    This bull sold to the populus by the Scottish government; an idea of some homogenius shortbread tin history where everyone wore kilts and spoke Gaelic; its akin to suggesting that every Englishman's ancestor spoke Cornish or morris danced. Still, that's politics for you, placating a vocal minority and tapping into easy veins of ill informed nationalism for votes.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    The Gaelic gravy train

    Labour and SNP are both fighting to give Gaelic large sums of money so that a few luvvies In Glasgow can earn vast sums of money reminiscing about an idyllic childhood in the islands that never existed. And the Tories were the ones who passed the bill setting this whole thing up in the first place.

    I can't get foreign language lessons for my young children, but if I want them to be in Gaelic Medium education they are getting vast sums of money thrown at the language. Primary classes of 6 with two teachers!

    No-one reads the Gaelic books, and our MSP's sole claim to (very) modest fame is that he has demanded that Harry Potter be translated in Gaelic.

    It's a f'ing joke and they know it. But until the gravy train is derailed ......

  20. JakeyC

    Scottish 'variations'

    Beyond the futile and poor-value attempts to 'promote' Gaelic (exactly what does it do so much better than English or German or French?), the decisions to show local Scottish variations in place of generally popular programmes make even less sense.

    For example, rather than showing a documentary with broad appeal or perhaps a sports event such as snooker (what else does the BBC have these days), if there's a programme with a hint of Scottishness about it, BBC Scotland will slap that on instead despite the fact that if the 'variation' were to be shown purely on its merit as a programme, it'd have been axed.

    Take River City. I dislike Eastenders as much as the next man, but are the Scots really so blinkered that they consider this pish to be better SIMPLY because it's not based in London? If it's so damn good, why's it not shown outside of Scotland. Because it's rubbish and is just there to fill the quotient of 'Scottish' programmes that's why.

    Rant ends.

  21. Richard Dyce

    Gender issues

    Actually, in Gaelic, it's "Charlie is Lola" which reads like that car advert with the business Man holding up a sign behind a passing underground train - "At the weekends, my name is Mandy"...

  22. Feef Lovecraft

    Let it die

    Gaelic is neither relevant nor usefull in a modern society, condem it to ren faire and quirky local traditions for good.

  23. oxo

    I have an idea

    Given that it's the scots we're talking about here, I'd bet that all the gaelic speakers would rather have a £60 discount on the license fee, and no gaelic channel.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Perhaps the BBC could look at TG4 in Ireland and the success it has had, now seen very much as being independent of the national broadcaster here.

  25. Liam Pennington

    I for one am in favour....

    Gaelic and Welsh are languages spoken within the UK, and as the national broadcaster, the BBC should do all it can to promote and sustain those languages. Through other income streams they promote the non-English languages through the BBC World Service; it should do all it can to maintain viewers or listeners in Welsh or Gaelic.

    If the viewing figures are falling, I suspect they may return to broadcasting Gaelic programming within later night BBC Two programming.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Of course it would help if people could have actually received this without a subscription until recently in the Highlands (IE where most the Gaelic speakers are).

    Certainly in where I was in Skye and Benbecula recently I couldn't get a single channel on freeview.

    Sure FreeSat is free, but how many people have it yet?

  27. MGJ


    This comes out on the same day as the Scottish Governments Gaelic Plan?

  28. Pierre

    "anyone who does speak Gaelic is perfectly fluent in English too"

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by "fluent". Or by "English", for that matter.

    <duck for cover>

  29. Tom

    Even less popular than S4C

    I never thought I would find something more pointless and less popular than S4C (Sianel Pedar Cymru). Even my Welsh speaking friends get fed up with S4C. Just because they can speak Welsh doesn't mean that they want to watch Pobol Y Cwm, Wedi 7 or Ffermio - which is blokes in sterotypical farmers clothes getting over excited about sheep.

  30. Steve

    Just politics

    In the brave new world of digital TV, why do they need a whole gaelic channel instead of just a selectable gaelic audio track for BBC1 Scotland?

  31. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    Ignorant crap

    The article and most of the comments are based on big language prejudice (English for everyone and bugger the rest) and total ignorance of linguistics, culture, minority rights, kids' language development, the effects of diversity in a society (the same as oxygenation and water filtering for rivers), erc.

    Put you lot in a classroom where maths or chemistry (or any foreign language at all) was being taught through the medium of Chinese or Hindi and you'd be moaning and screaming blue murder.

    (Paris cos her moaning and screaming would mean something good was going on... ;-)

  32. Craig

    Only gaelic

    It may surprise some of you to learn that there are parts of Scotland where it is quite normal to encounter individuals who primarily speak gaelic, and who do not have a comprehensive grasp of the English language.

    I was lucky in that most schools on the North-West coast were offering English lessons in primary school by the time I was four years old. Even now there are some primary schools that do not offer quality tuition on the English language and students of those primary schools have to rely on TV for English education until they reach secondary school.

    It is easy to presume that everyone speaks English fairly well, but while gaelic is the primary language in many of the rural areas of Scotland it will always be the case that some individuals will have difficulty picking up a second language - in this case, English.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    The sooner we all speak the same language...

    The sooner we will stop killing each other over misunderstandings.

    Of course we will still kill each over over other things...

  34. Allan Rutland

    And how much is this costing us?

    This costs the license fee payer a bloody fortune for no one to watch. Typical beeb pissing away money yet again. Kill the crap! Alba, BBC4, most of BBC3, and the other trash. Not needed, not wanted, and its not watched!

  35. Nìall Tracey

    Life support?

    You'd be on life support too if you'd been stabbed, kicked, punched and beaten as much as Gaelic has.

    " So the Scottish Parliament, and the BBC, instead spend money promoting a language hardly anyone speaks, while forgetting that anyone who does speak Gaelic is perfectly fluent in English too "

    Wrong. They're not promoting a language -- they're delivering a service to a minority in their own language, much as they do with the deaf community. Signed programs are not an attempt to "promote" BSL after all. The deaf population are all perfectly fluent in written English (as available on Ceefax page 888) but prefer to view TV in their own language (BSL -- British Sign Language). And several major channels are happy to deliver that service to them.

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Cultural impoverishment via language death

    Numerically, Scottish Gaelic is on a par with Abkhazian, which is spoken by about 50,000 Abkhaz (half the population of Abkhazia). The difference is that the Abkhaz quite correctly see their language as defining their status as a distinct people and nation, whereas Scots Gaels do not.

    Fifty-thousand speakers is certainly enough of a nucleus to keep a language alive, but only if there's the will to do so, which seems to be lacking in Scotland.

    Clearly the methods used to encourage use of Gaelic in Scotland are ineffective. I wonder what would happen if anyone turning 18 years old who could speak and understand Gaelic fluently got a reward of, say, £10,000? I'm referring here to the true fluency which only results when a language is learned at a very early age and which permits one to form and understand utterances such as "Would that she had been going to dig the parsnips!"

    That level of fluency is very difficult to learn, if not impossible for most people, after the age of six or seven.

    The current system trying to assist Gaelic strikes me as politically motivated without any real feeling for the tragedy of the death of a language. It's your usual heartless, PC, bean-counting approach to a matter that demands heart and (dare I use the word on El Reg?) love. When Gaelic dies in Scotland, the entire world will have lost a valuable heirloom that can never be brought back.

    These remarks apply equally to all the small languages of the world. Here on Vancouver Island, various Indian bands are in a desperate race against time to teach their languages to children before the tiny handful of fluent speakers, in many cases no more than half a dozen or so people 80 y.o. or older, die off. Perhaps most readers of El Reg will think "who cares about a bunch of former savages?" but it is sad to see the once astounding linguistic diversity of the place fade into nothingness.

    ObIT: if you are building any application with user input, make sure it works with every language and every script known. This is one area where Microsoft deserves a great deal of credit, with their Uniscribe system that effectively uses OpenType layout tables to render all sorts of strange and wondrous writing systems.

  37. Defiant

    He who pays loses

    Thankfully I've never given the BBC a penny in 19yrs and never will. I can't stand the socialists bias and waste that they stand for.

  38. Tom

    At least s4c has a bit of rugby on now and then

    even though the english commentary is in welsh.

    Beats watching english rugby players dance badly.

    Oh hang on it starts again on Saturday!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC Alba

    I suspect the number of Gaelic speakers from the census is an exaggeration, many people will have ticked the box but their knowledge of Gaelic is probably limited to Sláinte.

    Sales of Gaelic books and newspapers might be a better test.

  40. Pierre

    Welsh pr0n?

    "Ffermio - which is blokes in sterotypical farmers clothes getting over excited about sheep."

    Sounds very naughty...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the BBC cared about old languages ...

    ... they would not have made Pogue Mahone (póg mo thóin) change their name to The Pogues.

  42. Mark McC
    Paris Hilton

    More TG4

    TG4 is the Irish television channel devoted to Gaelic and is doing quite well for itself. It seems that early on they realised that anyone who might have even a passing interest in the language is also the kind of person likely to be interested in shows of a historical, cultural or artistic bent.

    They cut down heavily on the whole 'take a popular show and redub it in Gaelic' thing (with the exception of dubbed South Park which is hilarious when you know the episodes well enough not to need English). Instead they focused on providing shows about Irish history, culture, local sports, documentaries from far-flung corners of the world and foreign 'arthouse' movies.

    Most of their content is still spoken or dubbed in Gaelic with English subtitles but by branching out into areas that are poorly covered by mainstream channels they've picked up a respectable and loyal share of the market, including many people who don't speak Gaelic. Maybe even a few of the non-Gaelic speakers have even picked up an interest in the language because of this.

    If/when the BBC start to provide an Ulster-Scots channel for Northern Ireland, then we will have something worthy of derision.

    /Paris could teach the Beeb a thing or two about cunning linguists.

  43. The Badger

    Re: Let it die...

    "The only thing we need keep is a dictionary for prosperity."

    I think you'll find that the word is "posterity". Some advice: try to demonstrate a reasonable grasp of the language (or, one might hope, languages) you already profess to know before taking a dump on someone else's language and culture.

  44. Elrond Hubbard

    Gaelic Monoglots?

    To the guy who reckoned that the number of Gaelic speakers was far fewer than the 50-odd thousand responding to the 2001 census, you obviously haven't been to the Western Isles lately. As the article refers to 'going up the A9' and expecting to see Scotland from that as a vantage point, it's hardly surprising...

    It's perfectly normal to nip into the co-op either in Daliburgh in South Uist or just over the causeway in Benbecula and hear mother and infant nattering away in Gaelic. There, bilingualism meant the recent addition of **English** to the Gaelic-only roadsigns I remember from the holidays in the 70s and 80s back when I was a wee nipper.

    What place does Gaelic have in the world today? You might better ask what place does English have in a world where American displaced it at least a decade ago. Having lived for the last 20 years 'down south' where Mockney, dumbing-down and grocers apostrophe's long ago replaced any real, joined-up language, I can confirm that what used to be referred to as the Queen's English is currently making its last stand somewhere in the Netherlands.

    I'm in two minds about the thumbs up given by a previous commentator to Neil Oliver's 'History of Scotland'; it's too simple a story, trying to bash together into a single narrative what was in reality at least three separate stories, that just happened to take place at the same point in history and accidentally result in the Scotland that all we exiles love. And big ones too (usual joke).

    It's not a justification for the per-head extra cost of the BBC Alba service, but then that's trying to give an answer to the wrong question; the Gaels have faced down rampant attempts to exterminate their language in the past, and the simple indifference being expressed in these comments they will be able to brush aside as if they weren't there.

    Fact is, the language comes out of the different outlook and lifestyle of the people and as long as these survive Gaelic will survive. BBC Alba, Freesat etc etc are nice to have add-ons, but not essential for the survival of either language or people.

  45. Seán

    Criminal past

    Remember too that Gaelic is not a language whose appeal has dropped and has withered away. The hated english conducted genocidal pogroms and made the language illegal. As with so many atrocities funnily enough it's not in english history books. tsk

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Only sixty quid each? So what's the BBC doing with the rest of these licence payers' money?

  47. Martin
    Thumb Down


    I read the register every day and in all the years that I have read this site I have never come across an article that I have taken an exception to and insult from. While it is true that Gaidhlig isn't exactly the most widely spoken language in the world it is still something worth fighting for! We have already lost Manx and Cornish isn't looking that great but is having a bit of a resurgence. Would the author be happy to see nothing but English spoken in all parts of the UK?


    Rach thu agus a' sgaoil am leathar de bhur paithar!

    oidhche mhath

  48. Alan


    Well interestingly Wales is trying to implement a new law requiring private employers to use Welsh and there are efforts to make Irish an official and equal language to English (ie rights based so that courts and the NI Assembly etc have to use Irish) in Northern Ireland - re someone mentioned Scots..perhaps the Scottish Government has neglected it but the Ulster-Scots Agency in Northern Ireland does a good job (brought to Ulster during the Ulster Plantations by Scottish settlers)

  49. Martin Silver badge

    What about Yorkshire ?

    Tha thinks tha's gor it bad - wiv only got Last o t' summer wine and bluddy 'Merdale an thees neigh on 6million or us!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Maybe viewers were disappointed....

    That they tuned in to BBC Alba and instead of Jessica Alba they got a couple Scots yammering away in some language that manages to use the same vowel twice in each word?

    Paris, because if we can't have Alba we will always have Paris....

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Oh what a surprise

    Typical English institutionalised racism when anything to do with Scotland comes up.....

    About time we had more Scottish radio and TV channels - how many BBC Radio locals are there in England?

    Scots are subsidising these parochial moneypits.

  52. halfcut


    Cò an caora sin còmhla riut a chunnaic mi an-raoir?

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Niall Tracey

    "The deaf population are all perfectly fluent in written English (as available on Ceefax page 888) but prefer to view TV in their own language"

    Actually, not all deaf people who use BSL are perfectly fluent in written English. BSL is not related to English in any way. So it's not a choice to view the TV with BSL for those who do not understand English.

  54. fred scuttle
    Thumb Down

    Why the hell am I funding this?????

    Oh great!! - another BBC initiative - I have to fund Scotland again (not only free University places et al) with the launch of a bloody BBC channel devoted to about 1/2 a dozen people that may just watch it's benign content.......... i'm all for political correctness so where is the equally needed BBC Gay and Lesbian channel, or the BBC 'I've got one leg and need a voice' channel???? Is it me or has this British Isles gone absolutely bonkers......... with a scottish PM, a Scottish Chancellor and what next..... I'm moving to Scotland........ it beats being English in England that's for sure......... Jeeeezzz........

  55. Anonymous Coward

    I never knew...

    ...that Scottish people spoke English of any kind.

    It all sounds like Gaelic to me!

  56. fred scuttle
    Thumb Down

    I'm fed up with funding the Sweaty Socks!!!!

    Enough said...........................

  57. Steve Barlow

    More Gibberish from the BBC

    So the PC brigade in the BBC is again seen to be wasting money.

    The predictable failure of Gaelic TV has the same smell about it as the huge investment in Gaelic signage on Scotland's roads.

    Another unpopular waste of public money where the process of gauging the need, was as democratic as a banana republic election.

  58. antony

    Gaelic language support

    The tone of the article suggests that the author is not fully supportive of the goverment maintainance of dead languages. However, as more than 75% of workers in Scotland work for the Government, local or national, the Government has got to keept those idle hands busy. Making paint and television programmes no one watches (no one with money anyway) is as good a way as any.

  59. dreadful scathe

    more TV

    "anyone who does speak Gaelic is perfectly fluent in English too"

    not true - certainly there are still places where the first language is Gaelic and the children first pick up English when they get to school - and from TV of course, so wouldn't it be better if there were more Gaelic channels :)

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    50 000 people speak Gaelic. 400 000 people watch the channel. Seems like there is at least some interest in learning the language.

    If the license fee is more than 60 quid, then the Gaelic speakers are paying for their own and in part subsidising the rest of the BBC.

  61. M Neligan


    That wasn't a sheep - that was my wife.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Shame on you Reg

    As a very long time reader of the Reg, I don't think I've ever before been so ashamed by an article you've published. It's the most anglocentric bunch of tripe I think I have ever read - completely misunderstanding the role of the BBC and the importance of language to culture across the UK. You really should get out more. On second thoughts, I think those of us in Scotland and Wales would be happier if you stayed in...

  63. xjy
    Paris Hilton

    I thought the Reg was anti-monopoly

    This was the wierdest article ever given the Reg's sarcasm for every other monopoly around (except the wierd exception of WikiP which is the least monopolized encyclopedia around).

    Does this mean they only want media run by Murdoch, giving the "people" what they want?

    Or British English (a mere 50-odd million peeps) replaced by US English (almost 200 mill) or Chinese and/or Hindi (umpteen mill each)?

    Or IBM running the computer hardware industry where it matters, and M$ software that most peeps know and love?

    Or market forces killing everything except what the strongest want - regardless of content?

    Or the biggest military crushing everything they don't like.

    Or ... or ... or ... or ... or ... or ...

    Bloody grow up! Gaelic is the least of anyone's worries, and costs about nothing compared to a single bloody Trident submarine - which is also funded by taxpayers' money, like corporate welfare (billions) as opposed to the flaying of the poor and unemployed by the police and soon the army (remember Blair's attempted intimidation with that ridiculous kraal of tanks around Heathrow - taxpayers paid for that).

    Head out of arse please!

    (Paris cos she knows what head is, and that it's not up her own arse)

  64. Martin

    all your funding worries

    It is the same old nonsense that gets brought up with anything to do with Scotland, can all you people that are making slightly racist comments just shut up and leave enough alone? The act of union was the union of two equal kingdoms and as a result you should just learn to deal with it and get on with your lives. There has not been much made about the levels of cash being spent on the south east of england vs the north of england has there? If you look at that inequality I think that most of you will forget your issues with Scotland. Get your own house in order before looking to your neighbours!

    Feasgar math.

  65. TeeCee Gold badge

    Enough already!

    As an Englishman I am becoming tempted to move my official residence to Scotland so that I can vote for the SNP.

    If enough of us do it, we can solve the problem once and for all and I'm sure it's worth the minor inconvenience of having to turn up in Scotland once in a while.

  66. Gregor

    The only problem

    I'm not going to comment on the xenophobic comments or the blatent lies. Rather I will rise above the petty squabbling and comment on the article's points itself.

    The problem with BBC Alba is that no one can see it. It's only on Sky and now FreeSat. How much of the Gaelic population can receive that? I live in a city where I can get 100meg FTTH broadband, but I still can't see this station.

    The channel needs to be shown on Freeview, and Virgin.

  67. Liam Pennington

    BBC Regions

    A point made further up here may need to be investigated further. I live in Preston, Lancashire, and with a standard kitchen radio can pick up BBC Radios 1-5, Lancashire, Merseyside, and Manchester. On a good day, BBC Radio Cumbria too.

    I am not sure how many people tune in to these, but were the BBC wanting to cut money to help promote the langugaes of these isles, may I suggest "BBC Radio Northern England" to cut back on these 5 regional stations?

    Think about how much money could be saved if the regional radio stations are merged in this way, something I would support.

  68. W

    @ Enough already! - TeeCee

    I'm an Englishman who has already done it! If I could hack the distance from friends family, I'd be in Canada. If I had a better grasp of the linguistics, I'd be in Scandinavia.

    I moved to Scotland and voted for the SNP as soon as I could. I'm not Nationalist per se, but England's London-centric tripe has pushed me up here in the hope that they(/we?) can cut ties with Little Englandshire and stand alone as part of Europe. To reference the comments from yesterday's North-South-Fest, I'd be happy to see Scotland join up with those north of the Wash-Severn "border" and jettison Londonbury and it's environs.

    Granted, Scotland, with pockets of deprivation, one-third of the UK's land-mass(!) and far-flung communities, does indeed receive substantial state spending, but its average of £9631 public money per head is still less than London's at £9748 or Northern Ireland's £10,271 (for obvious reasons). -Sources: a) b)

    As for the BBC bashing; witness the comments in Cade Metz' GDrive El Reg 'story' where it was pointed out (again) how the Reg (again) keeps trotting out stories that throw mud at and repeat tired old quips about Wikipedia, Apple, Google, DAB and the BBC, with only very minimal new journalistic input. I neither agree/diagree with them all, but it's weak journalism, at best. Dare I suggest that News International's interests get off very lightly indeed?

    Speaking of which; more than ever, it appears that El Reg is happy to trot out blatant invective that is only very thinly disguised as satire.

    Interesting to note that Wikipedia currently describes as "a British technology news and opinion website". It used to use the equally valid description "a British technology tabloid website". Indeed, still considers it to be a tabloid. Keep 'em peeled folks, for Wikifiddler updates by El Reg.

    Reading El Reg is ever more an exercise in wading through said tabloid, in search of the elusive content hidden amongst ever more padding.

  69. Elrond Hubbard
    IT Angle

    BBC Alba on iPlayer? Ever?

    "The channel needs to be shown on Freeview, and Virgin." And iPlayer too perchance? How come all the BBC channels can now be streamed via iPlayer but BBC Alba can't?

    I did something after watching a Gaelic sitcom a couple of weeks ago (part of the mainstream BBC Scotland Gaelic output) and my iPlayer defaulted to menus and text in Gaelic. As someone who understands perfectly, speaks a little, but can't read or write Gaelic to save themselves, I hadn't a clue what was going on. For this reason I'm probably exactly the kind of Scot that BBC Alba is aimed at.

    It's a great initiative, but I can't help thinking that all these 'percentage-of-licence-fee' arguments will become moot in a year or so; after the Tories are elected, rumours are they intend to make the Beeb subscription-only pretty much overnight.

  70. W

    In other news

    The Trident sub will/would cost us an estimated cost of £350 - £1250 per head of UK population.

    Perhaps El Reg could update us on the latest story with regard to this piece of Sci/Tech news?

  71. Anonymous Coward

    Racist B*****ds

    Oh woe is me, I have to pay for something in another part of the UK that I don't want/need and grudge paying my licence fee, but won't say anything about the other parts of the UK who's money is paying for my local programming.

    Are these the same f**ktards who say the Scots are whingers?

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Gabhaibh mo leisgeul.

    A bheil Gàidhlig agaibh?

    Mind you with the creation of more Gaelic TV, will BBC England start making "BBC Chav"?

    I can see it now, TV programs with no real English, just this chaved up version of the language, that will basically be a bunch of stupid people communicating with another bunch of stupid people using a proto-language that resembles more what cavemen used to speak than the Queen's English.

    Gaelic vs Chav-glish...

    Bring on the Gaelic!

    Paris because she's adored by the little chavs.

  73. Paul Johnston



    Now I'd pay for that

  74. Anonymous Coward

    Duin do ghob, sasenach...

    I live in the Western Isles and work as an IT consultant Europe-wide. I speak Gàidhlig every day in my home and out, even my cats and my rabbit understand Gàidhlig . Gàidhlig was the first language of my grandparents, who didn't learn English until they were in the Primary school. My parents generation were given the belt for using Gàidhlig in school, such was the suppression of the language by the middle of the 20th century and, while she understands Gàidhlig perfectly well , my mother doesn't speak it because she was so thoroughly shamed for using it as a child. Nowadays many schools in the islands teach in Gàidhlig medium and that is all the better as far as I'm concerned.

    When I'm working abroad I find that I can speak Gàidhlig all the way until I step on the plane in Stornoway, speak English through Edinburgh and then be speaking largely in French, Spanish, Dutch or German for the rest of the week, up to the point that my skills fail me and my conversation partner takes pity and we switch to English.

    I am fortunate that most of the world has English as a second language so that I can travel widely with such a small set of languages, I'm amazed at the levels of polyglotism the rest of Europe have and am constantly put to shame by small children. I have made an effort in life to learn other languages in order to expand my opportunities and because I'm not a selfish prick that expects the rest of the world to make an effort I'm not prepared to make myself.

    As far as television goes, I have no interest whatsoever in football, or rugby, I think they are children's games and the devotion and attention they get in our culture is pathetic. I don't find soap operas entertaing, reality TV depresses me and news and current affairs coverage in the main lacks any real depth of critical geopolitical analysis. On the other hand, I appreciate that mine is a minority view so I grin and bear it for the benefit of those who do enjoy these things. The provision of Gàidhlig television goes some way to balancing the defecit with fantastic shows like Eorpa (probably the best investigative current affairs show on British TV) and Rapal actually representing my interests. The first couple of hours of BBC Alba broadcasting is kids TV and I think this is a really important part of what they provide to my community.

    Gàidhlig should be represented by the BBC because it is a living - if minority - national language. This is exactly the kind of output that justifies the TV License and there is more that could be done for Gàidhlig and other minority languages.

    The folk that are ranting about subsidising Scotland or claiming that Gàidhlig is a dead language and making what are essentially bigotted remarks demonstrate nothing but their own ignorance and do nothing to edify themselves or their point of view.

    To those who are English monoglots, I recommend learning as many other languages as you can for fun and profit. Check out the brilliant "Speaking Our Language" series if you fancy Gàidhlig. If nothing else it'll get you laid off some blone in Stornoway.

    Tioraidh an drasda,


  75. Anonymous Coward

    Gaelic guff

    According to the EU, there are more speakers of Scots in Scotland than there are speakers of Gaelic. They reckon at least a fifth of Scots actually speak Scots as their first language. There are also a few Scots (Ullans) speakers in NI. Are there any programmes in Scots? Hardly likely. The nearest we've had in my lifetime was Rab C Nesbit and even that's gone now, so it's just as well that we all speak English as well, isn't it?

    It doesn't surprise me to find out that the board of BBC Scotland all come from the Western Isles. It all makes perfect sense now.

    ...and yes, River City is utter, utter shite. I could write a better soap myself.

  76. W

    Re: "BBC Chav" - AC@12:55

    That'd be Jeremy Kyle, non?

  77. blackworx

    @ xjy, Elrond Hubbard, fred scuttle

    xjy, Elrond - I couldn't have put it any better.

    Fred, calm your jets, you'll give yourself a hernia you poor wee thing.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Surely subsidised by the UK license payer rather than the English license payer...i.e. in the same way BBC London is subsidised by the UK license payer? Do people not understand that in Scotland people still pay license fees and taxes? If you want to be petty you might highlight that despite making up around 10% of the license fee only 7% of content is "Scottish" (this figure includes programmes filmed in Scotland that are not Scottish).

    Perhaps all those dahn saff might want to be even more concerned about how 2 inches of snow can shut down an entire city costing business billions. It'd also be appreciated if the so-called national news would stop saying Britain rather than London.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Gaelic TV

    Gael's well tell you want a lovely language it is, and how you can't sware in Gaelic as it has no profanities. What they are not so keen on is the fact it is a fairly modern language, a cleaned up and transcribed version of the original Earse which had no written tradition. Earse meaning Irish.

    I did stay in Highlands and what annoys English speaking Scots north of Inverness is all the money being spent on the Gael's while ignoring the rest of the Highland population who don’t want anything to do with Gaelic. People from Wick would be very keen on programs about sheep, in English of course, so I am told.

  80. Tom Thomson
    Thumb Down


    The article is nothing but an English chauvinist rant - is the author trolling for reaction or is he really sufficiently stupid to think like that? Anyway, the title of this comment is quite a good description of the article's content, and of most of the earlier comments too.

    It's a long time since I could get any Gaelic radio or TV, but back then Eorpa was the best current affairs programme on British TV in any language and according to friends who can get it it still is. That programme on its own would justify spending what is spent on Gaelic TV (about as much as a tasteless non-entity like Jonathan Ross gets paid for polluting the air); but of course it can be justified in many other ways.

    I can't resist replying to this comment (from an AC, which suggests the author may be more sane than his comment suggests as not wanting to be known as the author of that comment is surely a sign of sanity):

    "Gael's well tell you want a lovely language it is, and how you can't sware in Gaelic as it has no profanities. What they are not so keen on is the fact it is a fairly modern language, a cleaned up and transcribed version of the original Earse which had no written tradition. Earse meaning Irish."

    Well, it would be nice if people would comment in English instead of whatever that is - but it's evidently some language fairly closely related to English as I can work out roughly what it means.

    I can swear in Gàidhlig when I want to, so someone has been misleading that commenter.

    Every language which has native speakers living today is a modern language - no-one speaks Early modern English, Middle English, AngloSaxon, proto-Germanic, or PIE any more. Perhaps the commenter would agree that English is just a cleaned up and transcribed version of Anglo-Saxon which had no written tradition (well, we have rather less written Old English than written Common Gaelic aka Old Irish)? I suspect the commenter would have more difficulty laying his hands on a copy of Beowulf than I would getting a copy of Compert Con Culainn

    Of course no-one's ever heard of "Earse", he must means Erse (a word whose use would buy him a bunch of fives in most bars in Ireland, I think). Understanding that the relationship that Gaoluinn, Gaeilge, Gàidhlig, and Gaelk have with Common Gaqelic is much the same as the relationship that German, Dutch, Friesisch, Flemish, English and Scots have with Old Plat Deutsch is presumably beyond him. And he presumably isn't aware that it was the Gaels (not Augustine; and no greengrocer's apostrophe, please) who brought Christianity to barbarian England and who retained knowledge of classical and bilbical languages and classical literature when the rest of Europe was busy with its "dark ages", and brought that knowledge back to much of the rest of Europe.

    I wonder if the anti-Scottish (and anti-Irish) and anti-Gaelic chauvinism shown so often by the English has a very simple reason: they hate us Gaels because we changed the English barbarians, free to rape and pillage to their hearts' content , into Christians who were expected to have a conscience so they couldn't have all that fun any more.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    @Tom That was a bit of a rant ! Erse is the modern derogatory term from the original old Scots word Earse or more correctly Earfe, in the same way English was Englifh. I was just trying to be polite. The fact is you will find no books written in Earse, apart from the odd bible, prior to the 19th century, having no written tradition was one of the reason the language was dying out. The other one Gaels will tell you is "it is the language of the angels !" I think not.

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