Memorandum submitted by Alastair M Scouller
1. I am a Gaelic-speaking Scot, resident
for over 25 years in London. I occasionally run Gaelic courses
on the island of Colonsay, in Argyll, a traditionally Gaelic-speaking
area where I have a second home.
2. I see the proposed Communications Bill
as an opportunity to extend the coverage of Gaelic television
programmes, at present limited to Scotland and at certain times
only, to the nation at large, by establishing a dedicated Gaelic
3. Although the number of Scots Gaelic speakers
in the traditional Gaidhealtachd is now extremely low,
there is a considerable diaspora throughout the country, in the
Scottish Lowlands and in England, with an estimated 5,000 speakers
in the London area alone. Most of these people have no access
to Gaelic broadcasting. Radio nan Gaidheal is not available
even in the Scottish Borders or Dumfries and Galloway.
4. There are also a large number of Gaelic
learners, in all parts of the country, who would dearly love to
have access to Gaelic broadcasts in order to attune their ears
to live spoken Gaelic. This facility is currently denied them,
although learners of most continental European languages have
television and radio broadcasts in those languages readily available.
5. Although Radio nan Gaidheal is
now available onlinea welcome developmentnot everyone
has access to the internet, and listening online often involves
blocking one's only telephone line for the duration of the programme.
6. Having its own dedicated TV channel would
also enable Scots Gaelic to present itself as a living language
to the nation at large, thus enhancing its contribution to the
native multi-cultural make-up of Britain. At a time when we are
rightly concerned to accept the languages of ethnic minorities
as an integral part of British society, it would be wrong to neglect
those languages and cultures which pre-date the arrival of the
7. For these reasons I would urge the inclusion
of a Gaelic television channel in the arrangements proposed under
the Communications Bill.