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Monday, 20 May, 2002, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
US switches on to Tartan TV
Tartan TV's Fiona Kennedy
Tartan TV's Fiona Kennedy meets the first minister
An Aberdeen-based television production company is launching an attempt to tap into a surge in interest in Scottish heritage among Americans.

Tartan TV has a deal with cable stations in the United States and Canada to showcase all that is best about Scotland.

The move comes as census figures show that more Americans than ever are claiming Scottish ancestry.

The increase in Scottish-Americans is not down to increased emigration, but due to people in the United States choosing to highlight their origins in Scotland for the first time.

Scotland has few negative connotations

Robert Sproul-Cran
Tartan TV

Tartan TV's chief executive Robert Sproul-Cran said that the increased profile of Scottish-Americans could be down to the "positive" image of Scotland.

He said: "Scotland has few negative connotations. The old image of Scots as mean seems to have faded away to be replaced with a more friendly, hospitable and musical reputation."

Mr Sproul-Cran said that in the multi-ethnic society of the United States, people often had a number of different ancestries to choose from.

He said that an increasing number of people were becoming "comfortable" with calling themselves Scottish.

Fine tuning

Tartan TV will begin broadcasting to eight cable networks across the United States and Canada from September.

The weekly programme will be augmented by, a website that makes use of sophisticated "streaming" techniques.

The site will enable viewers to find more in-depth information about anything they see on the mainstream show, as well as enabling them to buy relevant Scottish exports and produce online.

The programme has been in preparation for more than two years as the company attempted to "fine tune" its product for the North American market.

Mr Sproul-Cran said the programme has to tailor itself to the tastes and knowledge of its audience.

He said that it would be a mistake to take for granted that all the audience would understand the meaning of Scottish words, or know what things such as glens and lochs were.

Tartan TV was co-founded by country singer and broadcaster Fiona Kennedy and Mr Sproul-Cran.

Traditional elements

Ms Kennedy's reports from Tartan Week in New York, in which 8,000 pipers paraded through the streets, will be included in Tartan TV's debut programme.

Mr Sproul-Cran hopes to be able to attract his audience with traditional elements of Scottishness - such as tartan, whisky and Highland Games, before leading them to more modern elements of the country.

He said that digital technology, such as cable television and fast broadband internet access, was rapidly opening up the global market for niche programming.

However, he said that with millions of Americans claiming Scottish ancestry he was aiming to service a "mass niche" market.

Stephen Evans reports
"There are suddenly more Scots on American streets."
BBC Scotland's Andrew Anderson
"The latest census figues in the States show a big jump in the number of Scottish Americans."
See also:

07 Apr 02 | Scotland
06 Apr 02 | Scotland
01 Apr 02 | Scotland
26 Feb 02 | Scotland
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