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Doubts expressed on Gaelic digital service

The BBC Trust and Ofcom have expressed reservations over the potential value and market impact of a new Gaelic digital TV and multimedia service. The Trust and Ofcom today respectively published assessments of public value and market impact, which will both form part of the BBC Trust's over-arching public value test for the service. The proposal would see the BBC launch a tri-media Gaelic service in partnership with a third-party consortium, consisting of a seven-hours per day Gaelic TV channel, BBC Radio nan Gaidhael, and a Gaelic area on the BBC website. Christopher Woolard, the BBC Trust's head of finance, economics and strategy, said that on the current body of evidence provided by the BBC executive, "the potential public value would not be sufficient to justify the level of investment proposed". He explained: "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 PVA 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?" Ofcm added that the service would have "very significant positive market impacts... most notably in the net increase in scale it will bring to the Gaelic media sector, which should involve an increase in market opportunities for a number of players, as well as wider benefits." The regulator added: "However, Ofcom also notes the significant concerns of potential suppliers to the [Gaelic Digital Service] about commissioning processes and protocols. We make a number of recommendations to the Trust to ensure that there is transparency in these processes and that the GDS is encouraged to play its part in further developing a diverse and creative production base for the Gaelic media sector."

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