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A SCOTTISH parliamentary report on Gaelic Broadcasting has called for "a transitionary body" to pave the way for a separate Gaelic television channel.
The report by the Parliament's Education, Culture & Sport Committee, which looked at the progress of Comataidh Craolaidh Gàidhlig (CCG) since its establishment in 1990, concludes that while the CCG has made a strong cultural, social and economic contribution there are a number of operational and strategic issues that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
The report calls for the establishment of a transitionary body to take the lead role in building towards a dedicated Gaelic channel but suggests that this task might best be undertaken by one of the existing broadcasters in Scotland and not by the CCG.
Speaking on behalf of the Committee, Convenor Karen Gillon said: "The Committee recognises that the CCG and those it has funded have, through their work, made a highly positive impact on Gaelic language, culture, education and society. However it was clear to the committee that there are weaknesses in the current structure in terms of operation and strategy that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
"The work of the CCG has been hampered from the outset as the Gaelic Television Fund was not index-linked meaning that the amount of money available for programming has been decreasing in real terms each year. The CCG's difficulties have been exacerbated by not having the power to schedule programmes themselves something that continues to be reserved to the broadcasters.
"That is why a new strategic approach is needed and we recommend that a transitionary body be established, drawn preferably from one of the existing broadcasters in Scotland, to deliver high-quality and relevant Gaelic broadcasting for the 21st century. We welcome the announcement of the forthcoming Westminster Communications Bill, and look forward to continuing dialogue with our UK colleagues as to how we can best take this important issue forward.
"We were also disturbed by the evidence from PACT, the main production trade union, regarding Seaforth House in Stornoway and the CCG's insistence that clients use the facility as a condition of certain funding contracts. It would be up to PACT to challenge the status of this arrangement in a court of law but we believe it wouldn't be in the public interest for the CCG to insist upon such a confrontation and would urge it to drop this condition. This is not a manner in which any accountable public body should operate".
The Gaelic Broadcasting Committee (Comataidh Craolaidh Gàidhlig, CCG) manages the Gaelic Broadcasting Fund which was set up under the provisions of the Broadcasting Act 1990, as amended by the Broadcasting Act 1996. In practice, funded programmes are broadcast by the BBC as well as ITV, although the BBC has no statutory requirement under the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996 to transmit Gaelic programmes funded by the Gaelic Broadcasting Committee.
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