Gaelic channel “unexpected success” in Scotland

It costs a penny or two but might we take a leaf out of the Scottish book? The Independent reports:

BBC Alba is proving to be an unexpected success, pulling in more than 600,000 viewers in its first week of broadcasting, more than double the projected audience of 250,000.”

The essential is to make it inclusive, for instance as argued for by Lindy McDowell.It was a neat idea for Alba to launch with a comedy drama about Elvis rather than something from the Celtic mists. It’s true though when the channel settles down the audience figures may not hold up. Still Alba has had a warm reception despite some fears – unhinged when you think about it – that it was ” set up to fail”

From the Herald
“BBC Alba also offers a great learning curve. I now know that the Gaelic for snooker is snuicar.”
“Why is the BBC Trust quibbling over £4 million to put an entire channel on Freeview when they agreed to pay Jonathan Ross £6 million a year for his hour a week?”

( The channel is on Sky and Freesat)

Between all the broadcasters in Ireland including TG4 and not just the BBC, a bolder TV proposition in Irish should be developed to appeal to the North and include lots of gateways to non-Gaelgoir. If its right that they haven’t got it Alba should certainly have a subtitle option. The technology is there. The option of subtitles is essential.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s a stunningly good channel. I thorough recommend watching it, whether you follow the language or not. The content is good, and they’ve gone for low production high content.

    I watched a panel debate in a hall in Stornaway two Sundays ago. No audience just the panel talking through religion and ethics… Great stuff…

    Good programme on S4C on Welsh speakers in America and the election last night (Started in Southern California in Cardiff by the beach). No subtitles which makes it a higher threshold, but good incentive to listen to the language rather than read it off the screen…

  • ggn

    I hate to be cynical but language activists in Scotland are questioning the BBC’s motives for keeping BBC Alba for keeping it off Freeview.

    I.e. Do they hope it fails?

    The reality is that the majority of Gaelic speakers for whom the channel exists cant actually watch it.

    That said it is looking good, math sibh BBC Alba.

    What about extending the availabilty to Ulster!

    I think that subtitles in English should also be available for all programs on this station and on TG4 but not automatically, they should just be on Ceefax, the learning potential would also be significantly increased if Gaelic subtitles were also available.

  • Ri Na Deise

    I always found TG4s programmes to be very quality and their sports coverage is excellent. These stations can and do work and do attract reasonable audiences from outside native gaelic speaking areas.

  • Modernist

    Aontaím leatsa ggn. Mothaim féin go bhfuil dearcadh frith-ghaelach ag alán stiúrthóir sa BhBC anseo in Éirinn is thar lear san Alban. Féach siar ar an agóid ar son an Act le dearanas is na figiúirí mhícheart a d’fhoilsigh siad faoi líon na n-agóideoirí. É sin ráite ní mór dom a rá go ngabhaim gach aon dea-mhéin don stáisiún iontach seo

  • Brian Walker

    Yes I’m puzzled why no subtitles option – I say option because it’s quite possible to select or de-select them through red button or +1 channel options as well as Ceefax. PS What do you think, Modernist?

  • perry

    We watched it on Sky in our house and none of us can speak Irish or Gallic or Gaelic or whatever it is that we’re supposed to call our local version.

    Q.If Gallic and Irish are as distinct as I’ve heard some people claim could TG4 and BBC Alba programs be shown together with local programs on a BBC Uladh channel or would they need two sets of sub-titles?

  • Modernist

    Should prob have translated that last post for those who dont speak gaeilge so ill translate the following. Sorry if I caused any offence to anyone.

    “Aontaím leatsa ggn. Mothaim féin go bhfuil dearcadh frith-ghaelach ag alán stiúrthóir sa BhBC anseo in Éirinn is thar lear san Alban. Féach siar ar an agóid ar son an Act le dearanas is na figiúirí mhícheart a d’fhoilsigh siad faoi líon na n-agóideoirí. É sin ráite ní mór dom a rá go ngabhaim gach aon dea-mhéin don stáisiún iontach seo “ translates as

    “I agree with you ggn. I personally feel that there is an anti-gaelic outlook amongst many directors of the BBC here in Ireland and over in scotland. Just look at the misreporting of the numbers of protesters protesting for the Act recently. That said I have to say that I wish all the best to this great station”

    Sílim gur mór an trua nach bhfuil na fó-theacs ghaidhlige nó béarla curtha ar fáil don luch féachaintise. Is cabhair iontach iadsan do dhaoine nach raibh an deis acu an teanga a fhoghlaim is le cúnamh dé mhíthuiscint i dtreo na teanga a maolú.

    I think that its a big shame that the subtitles are not available in gaelic or english to the viewers. They are a great help tothose who never had the opportunity to learn the language and to hopefully allieviate misunderstanding towards the language.

  • ggn

    ‘or would they need two sets of sub-titles?

    What do you mean?

  • perry

    I mean, if BBC Eire / BBC Uladh was an Irish medium channel carrying a BBC Alba program would we need a translation into English and another into Irish from the Gallic or are the Gallic and our local version of Irish close enough that an Irish speaker would get by?

    I’ve heard some Irish speakers claim that they’ve managed a conversion on a Scottish island with someone speaking in Gallic without resorting to English and I’ve heard other people saying that’s not doable or that the conversation must have been very simple.

  • Jer

    speaking for another but i think that he might be talking about subtitles in Irish and Scottish respectively i.e for the hard of hearing rather than a translation into English.
    I live abroad and watch most of my tv with subtitles on and its not as annoying as you would expect.
    Fair play to the Scottish language community for getting a channel up and running. If it replicates the depth of TG4 then it should thrive. Those stations with their small budgets demonstrate the paucity of talent available in other channels.

  • Jer

    sorry perry, you were on line so discount my interpretation of your words.

  • picador

    If you are learning a language – any language – and you are watching a film or programme in that language it is a big help to have subtitles in that language too. So what you don’t understand by listening, you can understand through reading, which is an easier skill to learn.

  • Mick, can U4C demand here?

  • perry

    Hi Jer,

    “speaking for another but i think that he might be talking about subtitles in Irish and Scottish respectively i.e for the hard of hearing rather than a translation into English.”

    I was thinking of the hard of hearing and the student too but I mixed up that thought with wondering whether if I decided to take an evening course in Irish at the tech I’d find BBC Alba useful or just confusing. Would it be like trying to learn Danish by watching telly in Oslo?

  • Jer

    I dont know for certain but I would say it would be tough. I speak some dutch but can read some german, its fairly close cousin, as a result. If a foreigner speaks german I can understand some of it but not if a German speaks it. Then i have no hope. It always struck me that if you were fluent in Dutch you could learn german quickly but trying to learn german by studying Dutch would be very confusing despite the close connections.I think irish and scottish are probably closer related but still the differences are daunting and the small variations would trip you up time and time again. having mastered one though I think it is likely to be easy to learn the other.

    as a side story my neighbour used speak dutch to my landlord who was german. Each conversed merrily in their own tongue without any confusion.

  • ggn

    perry,

    It would be very useful indeed.

    The only danger is that occasionally you might use a word which people dont understand.

    That does not mean you would be wrong but.

    Check out some basic phrases …

    http://gaelgannaire.blogspot.com/2008/04/eadar-ghaeilg-i.html

    But remember these are standard example, the Irish of the Rhinns of Islay and Fanad are obviously alot closer.

  • Jer,

    … my neighbour used speak dutch to my landlord who was german. Each conversed merrily in their own tongue without any confusion.

    It depends which part of Germany the landlord was from. In much of north-west Germany the ‘dialect’ is Plattdüütsch, which is close to Dutch.

  • … if I decided to take an evening course in Irish at the tech I’d find BBC Alba useful or just confusing [perry]

    It would be very useful indeed. [ggn]

    With all due respect to your expertise in this area, ggn, I think he’d be much better off tuning into TG4. I find Scottish Gaelic interesting to listen to, but I don’t get 80% of it, whereas I get a bit more of TG4. Plus its programs actually deal with things of relevence to Ireland.

    TG4’s archive material in particular is very useful for learners.

  • ggn

    Horseman,

    The question he / she asked is would it be ‘useful’.

    I maintain that he could know more Gaelic than he / she would at the beginning.

    In addition, her / his knowledge of Ulster Irish and Classical Gaelic would be enhanced.

    I maintain my comments.

    It would be ‘more useful’ to tune into TG4 in order to learn a strictly ‘Irish’ Gaelic.

  • Jer

    Horseman,
    You are right about the connections with Plattdüütsch. Indeed my german landlord was from the western side of Germany but I think more to the north. I dont belive she spoke plats.
    I was in Iceland in March and on a tour bus the Icelandic guide spent most of his time speaking German reflecting the make up of the tour. I understand everything he said as he spoke clearly and without a german accent. he was speaking High German not plats. The two are very similar much to the chagrin of the Dutch.