• March 23, 2010

A decision about carrying the Gaelic TV channel BBC Alba on Freeview has been delayed because of bandwidth congestion on the existing system.

A final determination of the issue was due to have been taken place next month but has been postponed until sometime in the Autumn.

In a statement the BBC Trust said:

“One of the main considerations for the Trust ‘s review of BBC ALBA has been the question of whether the service should be made available on Freeview.

“To do this could mean removing 13 of the BBC’s UK-wide network radio stations from digital terrestrial television in Scotland at times when the channel is broadcasting.

“The issue of universality is therefore directly relevant to the question of BBC ALBA’s availability in the future.

“Until the Trust reaches a view on what universality should mean for the BBC as a whole, it would not be appropriate to take a decision on BBC ALBA.”

MG Alba which produces the channel has said it is disappointed by the decision.

With the roll out of HD services and other pressures on the limited bandwidth available on Freeview it seems that the a decision on carrying BBC Alba may be repeatedly `kicked into the long grass’ unless strong political pressure is applied. The Celtic League has repeatedly stressed that the availibilty of all the Celtic language TV broadcasting services on the Freeview terrestrial service is an imperative.

In Wales Freeview roll-out would have been unthinkable without the availibilty of S4C from the outset.

In N. Ireland similar political pressure ensured a recent Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that both RTE and TG4 are carried after digital switchover (NB N. Ireland will be the last area to switchover in 2012).

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