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"Anger" in Gaelic community at Draft Communications Bill

At a conference on Gaelic broadcasting held last Friday in Inverness, the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee noted "the considerable disappointment and anger in the Gaelic community" that the recommendations of the Milne Report "appear to have been set aside" in the recently published Draft Communications Bill.
The representatives of Gaelic organisations welcomed the position taken in the policy statement accompanying the Draft Bill that the new Gaelic service be administered by a Gaelic agency - namely a strengthened and enhanced Gaelic Broadcasting Committee.
The discussions produced several agreed statements from the conference participants, including: a demand for a comprehensive and coherent Gaelic television service delivered on the widest possible range of platforms to enable maximum coverage and accessibility; adequate resources and support by appropriate infrastructure; any proposed enhanced service should be based on the model proposed in the Milne Report.
The importance of the current open period of consultation was recognised as a highly critical step in the process of working towards providing Gaelic speakers with the service to which they feel they are entitled and for which a case has already been made in a series of submissions.
The agreed recommendations will be submitted to the Scotland Office Working Group and to the Scrutiny Committee chaired by Lord Putnam as part of the consultation process.
The Gaelic community is being urged to add its voice in making the case for a new Gaelic television service by writing to The Right Hon Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, 2-4 Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5DH.
Elsewhere, in the six months up to 30 April 2002, the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee signed new production agreements for 116 hours of programming – worth £5.5 million – with Scottish broadcasters and independent producers.
Some of the contracts cover a two-year period and the distribution of contracts was as follows: BBC Scotland at £4,189,345 (two-year contracts); seven independent producers at £1,248,131; BBC Radio nan Gaidheal at £66,840.
During the same six-month period the Committee issued £2.6 million in production grants for the above programmes and others that had been previously contracted.
In the 2001/02 financial year the allocation of television programme and programme development grants was as follows: Independent Producers 51%; BBC 34%; ITV 15%.
Overall, grants awards totalled £2,617,008.
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