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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Yogurt is Yogurt in Gaelic

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David Dimbleby has caused a storm in a tea cup over BBC funded Gaelic programmes.

It seems time stands still in the Gealteachd. 

In 1992 when the Gaelic Television Committee (GTC) was formed, a joke was doing the rounds. 

What is the difference between yogurt and Gaelic? 

Yogurt is a living culture.

The Gaelic word for yogurt is commonly yogurt.

Dimbleby claims the BBC is suffering because it must fund Gaelic from its overall budget.

How much cash is at stake? 

In the past year it is estimated that BBC Alba received £9m from license fees. 

BBC Alba also got handouts from the Scottish Government amounting to £13.4m. 

That’s over £22m.  

Aberdeen University claims there are about 59,000 Gaelic speakers in Scotland. 

Meaning BBC Alba gets £381 per speaker.  

This calls to mind a piece of advice given to Margaret Thatcher in the early 90s when she was taking the lead in Westminster to fund Gaelic broadcasting. 

Thatcher was advised that it would be cheaper to give every Gaelic speak in Scotland a camcorder so that they could make their own films than fund the GTC.  

With the advances in mobile phone technology, it seems this advice may be more relevant today than it was 30 years ago.

According to freedom of information statistics, the Scottish Government will have spent almost £175m promoting Gaelic by the end of 2023.

£31.1m will have been spent in 2021/22.

The government has allocated an additional £29.6m to be spent in the next two years.

Joe Ventre, digital campaign manager of the Tax Payers’ Alliance, said this week, “Gaelic is a proud part of Scottish culture, but taxpayers are bound to ask whether this is the best use of their money while bills are soaring.”

Earlier this year, Professor Robert Dunbar of the University of Edinburgh called on the government to give Gaelic broadcasting the same status as Welsh broadcasting.  

S4C the Welsh broadcaster has annual income of just below £100m and expenditure of just over £100m. 

The Welsh government claims that S4C adds almost £200m to the UK economy every year.

Rather than retreating into itself, Gaelic broadcasting should take a lead from Wales and become a significant contributor to Scottish and UK GDP rather than a beggar with a bowl. 

Dunbar, Ventre and Dimbleby are all right in their own way. 

Gaelic can add to rather than take away from Scotland’s economy.

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