back to article Radio 4 bumped off Freeview by Gaelic TV

Radio 4 and Radio Scotland will get bumped off Freeview North of the border when BBC Alba arrives in digital later this year, though the BBC has found space for 1 Extra and 6 Music. It was feared that as many as 13 radio stations would have to be switched off in the afternoons to make space for BBC Alba, which broadcasts …


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  1. Chris Phillips
    Dead Vulture

    What language

    Does it broadcast in before lunch? I vote for Esperanto!

  2. Saucerhead Tharpe

    Not a Gaelic speaker

    And don't just watch it for the football

    The folk music programmes are good too

    Rather keep R4 and Radio Scotland and dump Radio4 extra mind

  3. Steve Murphy


    Why do you compare the cost per view against the licence feed then later state that the channel is majority funded by the Scottish Government?

    1. Danny 14


      because it is a ludicrous figure? Im sure most scots would prefer said £150 to be given back in buckfast vouchers.

  4. Chad H.


    Why do we even have Radio on Freeview anyway? Its not as if we're short of other broadcasting options, and surely displaying that still image is less energy efficient than say, turning on the radio.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Why

      I'd always assumed Freeview carried radio because, at least in some parts of the country, we *are* short of broadcasting options. Each "broadcasting option" involves erecting a set of masts in numbers and at locations depending on the frequencies you are using. If someone has paid (or is paying) to do this properly for one set of frequencies, there is an economic case for using that set of frequencies for a variety of media.

      On the other hand, I can't see any economic case for shopping channels on Freeview. Presumably they are used by the same people who give accurate answers to telephone surveys about their viewing habits.

    2. Alan 6


      Not everyone can pick up DAB, so it's the only way to listen to Radcliffe & Maconie now they've been shunted from Radio 2 to Radio 6

    3. Nick Carter

      Re: Why do we even have Radio on Freeview anyway

      I prefer radio on Freeview+ because I can record programmes and timeshift them to a more convenient time. Not all programmes are available on IPlayer or podcast download, and there's no time limit for keeping them.

  5. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Fairly typical.....

    BBC "Auntie knows best" attitude.

    I'm guessing the biggest department in the BBC right now must be the Dept of Official Bullshit, responsible for explaining their more absurd decisions to us mere mortals.

    The usual format is:

    BBC does something stupid.

    Masses of people complain.

    BBC explains why *they* are right and why we should be bloody grateful.

    1. Marky W

      Almost right

      Format actually is:

      - BBC does something which *appears* stupid

      - Masses of people complain

      - Extra money found down the back of sofa and stupid thing reversed

      - Everyone reminded how totally and utterly super-amazing BBC is

      - Example wheeled out by BBC at next license review

      - Trebles all round!!

      (see 6 Music for a fine example of this M.O.)

  6. Harry

    "TNS System Three phones people up and asks them if they watch the channel"

    You mean there are actually people that are stupid enough to *answer* unsolicited nuisance calls such as these?

    If stupid people didn't exist, there would be no point in making unsolicited nuisance calls.

    Stupid people, please get some sense! You may be stupid, but even being stupid doesn't justify perpetrating the making of unsolicited nuisance calls for survey or marketing purposes.

    1. Eponymous Cowherd


      If I have the time I make a point of answering these surveys.....

      And lying through my teeth. The trick is to give as absurd answers as possible without the numpty on the other end catching on.

      Most recent one was a "survey" (i.e. sales/marketing bullshit), on my "energy supplier". Convinced the eejit that I generated my own electricity (PV and wind) and my own gas (bio-reactor).

      Oh, and to avoid "perpetrating the making of unsolicited nuisance calls" I always inform them that they've been had at the end of the call. Just so they know that the last 1/2 hour has been a complete waste of their time.

  7. FIA Silver badge


    Do all the people who speak Gaelic also speak English?

    If so, isn't it time to stop things like this? At the end of the day all language is used for is to allow people to exchange thoughts and ideas, and whilst historically interesting, isn't it time we stopped essentially encouraging something that runs counter to us all understanding each other?

    1. TonyG

      Not all.

      Most people who speak Gaelic do speak English but as a second language, there are children who don't learn English until they reach school.

      Gaelic has a number of nuances that make it ideal for discussing certain aspects of life (such as crofting) which are difficult to express correctly in English, it's a language that suits its purpose well.

    2. Subliteratus

      What's the point?

      "Do all the people who speak Gaelic also speak English?"

      Yes they do (or the 2 people that don't are superannuated crofters on Lewis I'll never meet, so who cares?) and I'm with you on this. As a Scot, I have never had any interest in learning Scots Gaelic (or Irish, or Manx, or Cornish). It's not a significant part of my heritage at all and I get fed up with people telling me it is. The only thing you can do with Scot Gaelic is teach other people Scots Gaelic so they can teach other people... and so on in a never-ending cycle of futility. The language just seems to be kept up as a nod to nationalist aspirations, and for purely sentimental reasons.

      This is the 21st Century now - it's time to cut some of the past loose. But seeing as far too many Scots live in a fantasy world where everything will be made better by going back to an imagined past, this sort of pointlessness is bound to continue.

    3. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Not necessarily

      Language is rather more than just a way to exchange ideas. Different languages convey ideas in different ways, which in turn forms and perpetuates radically different world views. Language is a great part of culture, both forming it and being formed by it. When a culture loses its language it will change a lot, losing itself and possibly even disappearing entirely, as cultural artefacts and ideas become less possible to express in the adopted foreign language.

      A similar but less pronounced effect appears in language evolution over time. Words that meant one thing now mean a different thing but, also, ideas once held dear can no longer be expressed in any meaningful way, or take a great deal of effort to express and, consequently, become lost or changed until they're unrecognisable.

      A good example is the biblical concept of "fear". A contemporary reader, steeped in modern culture, will read phrases that refer to the "fear" of god and assume it means people are meant to be in mortal terror. The word originally translated as fear would these days be translated as respect, but that doesn't quite cover the full meaning of the original hebrew.

      Or take any greek text translated to English and look for the word love. You don't know whether that was agape, eros or what have you. Ancient greek has many words that are routinely translated as "love" but which mean very different things, meanings that require one or two sentences or a paragraph to explain in modern English. Cultural context is lost in translation. When a culture loses its language it has to attempt to translate its culture into the language it has adopted, a process that will strip a culture of most of its foundation or turn it into a parody of itself.

      The idea of a world where everyone speaks the same language might seem appealing at first, but which language do you choose? Any language you chose will end up destroying much of the culture alien to it. Constructed languages, moreso, for the only way they can survive is by crafting a cultural context within which they can function.

      A common language for commerce is useful, but we need to encourage the survival of languages in order to maintain the unique viewpoints they provide.

      And I say this as someone who thinks this BBC Alba thing is a pile of patronising, politically biased trash.

      1. Chad H.

        Words changing meanings

        Perhaps a better example is Terrible as in "Ivan the Terrible". He wasn't called terrible because he was an inept ruler, he was caused terrible because he inspired terror. Now the word "Terrible" is disconnected from its root word.

      2. Subliteratus
        Thumb Down

        Yeah but, no but...

        "A common language for commerce is useful, but we need to encourage the survival of languages in order to maintain the unique viewpoints they provide."

        Viewpoints that will remain inaccessible to the people that aren't fluent in the legacy language. You provide examples of concepts from Ancient Greek and Hebrew that are difficult to translate but not from Scots Gaelic - I wonder why? I think it's because those Greek and Hebrew still have a relevance that Scots Gaelic cannot match. How many contributions to science or philosophy were originally expressed in Scots Gaelic? Bugger all.

        If the Gaelic speakers could effectively translate the concepts then we'd no longer need Gaelic. If they can't - who cares apart from crofters? And so we're back where we started, questioning the utility of continued effort into maintaining an effectively dead language. And getting back to where we started in terms of language too: one of the languages Scots Gaelic supplanted when it arrived from Ireland in the 4th Century was Old English.

        1. rjones

          Gaelic is most certainly NOT dead

          Gaelic is not a dead langauge, it used day in, day out in parts of Scotland.

          1. Arthur Dent

            Re various comments

            Gaelic is not spoken only in Scotland, it's still spoken in Canada. I know a couple of Australians who are native speakers too (but I think the numbers there are extremely small).

            All the viewing figues are underestimates, because the counters don't check how many people outside of Scotland (in England, Wales, NI, and Mann) watch it (via satellite); the numbers are small, but do affect the total.

            The idiots who have made comments about only crofters speaking it are just that: idiots. I'm not a crofter, for one, and never have been.

            People have paid licence fees (radio and/or TV) to fund the BBC for a very long time, during which most of which time (at least for the first 50 years; indeed for the first 20 years there was no Gaelic output at all) the ratio of Gaelic to English BBC output was only a tiny fraction of the ratio of Gaelic to English speakers. So those whinging about the cost of BBC Alba now should just look on it as pay off for the decades when the Gaels were subsidising all the English rubbish that the BBC pushed out - at least that would be a reasonable way of looking at it if it weren't for the fact the the English are being largely let off the hook because a large part of the cost isn't paid from the license fee.

            Anyway, it's pretty clear from some of the comments here that our language is still threatened by "the foreigners' great ill-will", but as the poet said a few centuries ago, "Mhair i fòs is cha téid a glòir air chall dh'aindeoin gò is mìoruin mhóir nan Gall". Or as another said a century and a half ago, "Tha mi sgìth de luchd na beurla" (I'm fed up with English speakers) - I agree with her, the comments here have rendered me seachd seann sgìth dhiubh.

  8. nicebutdim

    Ludicrously slanted article

    1. Freeview is a *TV* platform. It would be nice if a way of keeping the radio channels could be found (and I know the Trust asked the BBC to look at ways of doing this). But we've always got, y'know, radios we can use for this.

    2. Gaelic's had centuries of hostility and enmity from central government. A small (and it is minuscule, when set against other governmental expenditure) contribution to the language is arguably the least that can be expected. And this money provides economic assistance to some of the poorest areas of the country, almost for free.

    3. Have you watched the programmes? They all have subtitles so are accessible to anyone who can read. They aren't all amazing tv, but many of them are (and exceptionally distinctive and differentiated from English-language TV to boot).

    4. Take this chance to explore one of the last indigenous languages of the British Isles. You may even end up speaking it.

    Feasgair Math!

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge


      Trying doing some and you'll find there are no "indigenous languages of the British Isles" just languages of successive migrants.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I've watched BBC Alba

    There was some Gaelic cartoon about - well, I haven't a clue, I don't speak Gaelic. Was quite good though. I think the good guys won in the end, and there was a moral (learn Gaelic?). Was quite good.

    I may have been indulging..

    1. Magnus Ramage

      Me too...

      My daughter loves Peppa Pig in Gaelic - but largely only for the novelty value, and still more importantly because it's usually the only episodes of Peppa Pig on Virgin's TV catchup. (None of us speak Gaelic.)

  10. rjones

    what a bitter article for a techie site

    Dear me. An article about increased availability of a TV channel serving its population and we get an article as slanted as this. Gaelic is one of the languages of Scotland, and BBC ALBA is actually pretty good - it has unique programming, and they are all subtitled so Gaelic learners or non speakers can follow.

    The author and the posters criticising this change clearly don't know that there was a major consultation in Scotland on this change, with many, many responses, almost all in favour.

    I just don't understand why the author takes such a sniping tone - a bit childish really. Many people have been campaigning for this change for a long time, and are looking forward to it being on Freeview.

    1. gribbler

      "I just don't understand why the author takes such a sniping tone"

      Do you normally read The Register????

      1. rjones

        Yes I do.

        Yip. Do you???

        Still think this article is sniping. This site is for tech news, not poorly disguised pettiness. I just can't stand people making silly comments about gaelic. Ok so some people don't speak it and only speak one language, so what.

        It's only happening in Scotland, as far as I know. so can everyone calm down.

        1. Chad H.


          Well I'm in scotland. I'd rather see something useful, like maybe building a railway line to Glasgow Airport. You know, something thats actually going to get some use.

    2. Chad H.

      Well RJones

      Thats £150 per viewer of everyone's money thats being spent on this; surely theres a better option to reach these people thats more efficent for everyones' money.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    The only time you need gaelic

    is when confronted by a vampire. (Not many of them here in the Midlands.)

  12. Rhod

    Why drop Radio 4???

    and not Radio 3, 1 Extra, 6 or one of the other radio stations that gets far smaller listening figures than Radio 4?

    What's the hidden agenda against Radio 4 north of the border?

    1. Magnus Ramage

      It was up against Radio Scotland in my day

      When I was a child in Glasgow, keen to listen to Radio 4, it shared a frequency (on FM I think) with Radio Scotland. Some bright spark at the BBC seemed to place them in the same category, and to reckon that Scottish people wouldn't mind losing Any Questions and the Today Programme so they could hear parochial news and pop music. (R Scotland may be much better than this, 25 years on.) It seems old attitudes die hard.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge


      Radio 4 is available on long wave, so has the best coverage of the analogue stations.

  13. Kay Burley ate my hamster


    I guess Ofcom could always release some of the digital dividend next year and sort this out by having a dedicated Mux for BBC radio...

  14. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    The BBC will never nuke radio 3

    It might only have a hundred and seventy-three listeners, but they all know the Prime Minister's phone number...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I'll be watching

    Been waiting for this announcement for some time. For various reasons, we, like others in Scotland, can't use FreeSat, the only current way of getting BBC Alba. This is an important boost for Gaelic which is gaining increased interest for cultural and other reasons. This desire to reclaim a threatened language may not be fully understood by monoglots, but has some momentum nowadays.

    The cost issue mentioned, while I don't think the figures are correctly defined as the "per person" way El Reg has chosen, WAS well chosen as a rabble rouser for Daily Mail readers, who can now safely lump Gaelic speakers and learners among others who are suspicious because aren't "like us."

    Surely El Reg can stick with the oft-heard issue of digital radio and question why BBC radio stations are on a TV platform? Isn't that the technological point rather than the Gaelic issue?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    El Reg not down with the kids

    Tsk, even I know it's "Radio 1Xtra" not "1 Extra". El Reg showing its age there.

  17. Ray 8

    I wonder

    how many of the people who posted message here are from Scotland?

  18. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Yorkshire language TV

    6 million viewers and the nearest we get for our cultural heritage is southerners pretending to do the accent on Last of the Summer Wine

  19. Alfie
    Thumb Up

    Fit like?

    I'm looking forward to it coming onto Freeview, I don't have access to cable and don't want to get FreeSat (wot no Dave?). Mostly for the football, but things like Padhraig Post and the like are more fun dubbed.

    But why isnt there any money being put into a BBC Doric channel? That at least has plenty of active speakers and is the only surviving dialect of Scots, but doesn't seem to get any support.

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