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07/11/2005

Ofcom agrees terms for a Gaelic digital channel

Ofcom has announced an agreement with Scottish TV and Grampian TV to aid the establishment of the proposed Gaelic digital television channel by 2007.
The regulator has agreed a contribution towards a Gaelic digital channel from STV and Grampian to the Gaelic Media Service (GMS) worth £1.2m in programming support and promotion over three years.
Ofcom’s Statement on Programming in the Nations and Regions, published in June this year as part of its Review of Public Service Broadcasting, concluded that the commercial public service broadcasters should support the establishment of a Gaelic digital channel with the BBC as the preferred broadcast partner for the new service. The document also suggested the commercial broadcasters should gradually move away from broadcasting Gaelic programming as the Gaelic digital channel became more firmly established.
Ofcom believes that Scottish and Grampian TV can most effectively contribute to the future of Gaelic television by supporting the new channel. The regulator recommended that this contribution should come from the money released by reducing the amount of Gaelic programmes shown in peak transmission time on the Scottish and Grampian channels. However, there will be no drop in the total number of hours of Gaelic programming on these channels until after the dedicated Gaelic digital channel has been in place for a year.
Further changes to Gaelic programming on the commercial channels up to digital switchover and beyond will be the subject of more detailed discussions over the next few years. It is anticipated that changes to primary legislation would be required in order to effect some of those further changes, a process that is outside the control of Ofcom.
Vicki Nash, Director of Ofcom Scotland, said: “Ofcom's agreement with Scottish and Grampian represents a positive step forward in the progress towards a digital channel dedicated to Gaelic viewers."
Ofcom is also responsible for approving the corporate plan of the GMS and has asked for a detailed timetable from the service for establishing the channel. Ofcom’s view is that it should be possible to have a channel in operation by January 2007, with a budget of £13-16m.
(GB)
VMI.TV Ltd

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