Culture secretary

UK Culture Secretary considering legislation to better protect Gaelic broadcasting

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Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Michelle Donelan. Photo Stefan Rousseau PA Images

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has said she is considering legislation to better support Gaelic broadcasting.

She was speaking in the House of Commons where former Conservative Scotland Office minister Iain Stewart said Gaelic broadcasting ‘needs public sector broadcasting status in legislation similar to that enjoyed by broadcasters in the Welsh language”.

Mr Stewart asked the Commons if the Secretary of State had any recent discussions with the Gaelic media service MG Alba.

Ms Donelan said: “The UK government has a reputation for demonstrating its commitment to minority language broadcasting to ensure that our broadcasters serve all audiences in nations and regions of the UK.”

She added to Mr Stewart: “Together we met the CEO of MG Alba earlier this year. I am grateful to the Chief Executive for raising the issues of sustainability of Gaelic language broadcasting and for providing detailed proposals for change.

“My managers have since been in regular contact with the organization, and I continue to speak to my counterparts in Scotland and will discuss further with MG Alba in due course.”

Positive economic impact

Mr Stewart said: “Gaelic broadcasting is vital not only culturally and socially, but also has a positive economic impact.

“Its future strength, however, requires public sector broadcaster status under legislation similar to that enjoyed by Welsh-language broadcasters.”

He suggested that “the forthcoming Media Bill would be an ideal opportunity to provide this”.
Ms Donelan replied: “I fully appreciate that the certainty of future funding and a strong partnership with the BBC is particularly important for MG Alba to deliver to Gaelic speakers.

“They have legitimate concerns and I have reviewed their proposals in detail.

“And with my officials, what we’re trying to do right now is decide whether legislation is the best mechanism to address their concerns through the upcoming media bill, or whether it’s better dealt with by the future review of BBC funding and subsequent review of the BBC charter.

“But I want to assure him that I am very committed to these issues and want to try to find a good solution.”
The exchange took place in the Commons on Thursday morning during a question and answer session to ministers from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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