Gaelic service too expensive says BBC Trust

The BBC Trust has expressed doubts over the value of a new Gaelic digital TV, radio and web service, saying it is too expensive.

The Trust’s public value assessment, published today, said that the potential public value of the £18m proposed service would not be sufficient to justify the level of investment proposed.

The BBC‘s proposed Gaelic Digital Service (GDS) is set to include a new digital channel to be co-funded by the BBC and Gaelic Media Service (GMS).

The assessment said that the service could deliver public value, and recommended that the Trust requests more evidence from BBC management that the service is a worthwhile investment.

Christopher Woolard, head of finance, economics and strategy for the BBC Trust, who led the assessment of the proposed new Gaelic Digital Service, said: “The evidence suggests the service would be of good quality and provide an enhanced service to existing Gaelic speakers, therefore contributing to the BBC’s public purposes.

“However, the assessment concludes that to justify the level of investment proposed, the Trust requires more evidence from the BBC Executive that the service would offer wider value to the audience in Scotland.

“For example, could the service do more to attract new speakers to the Gaelic language?”

Broadcast regulator Ofcom said in its Market Impact Assessment, also published today, that the proposal will have a significant positive impact and revealed strong support in principle for the service, but said that some stakeholders raised issues that required further analysis.

The Trust will publish its provisional conclusions on 21 November and the latest date for publication of the Trust’s final decision is set at 28 January 2008.

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