Page last updated at 12:17 GMT, Tuesday, 27 January 2009

TV 'must promote Scots language'

BBC news studio
Calls have been made for a new Scottish digital network to be set up

Any new Scottish television network should feature programmes in the Scots language, research commissioned by the Scottish Government has concluded.

The study of Scots language provision found it was a "living language" but said more needed to be done to preserve and enhance its status.

It said promoting the language could bring major social and economic benefits.

The findings will be discussed at a conference in Stirling next month.

In September, the Scottish Broadcasting Commission, which was set up by the Scottish Government, called for a publicly-funded Scottish network digital channel.

It said it should be committed to high-quality entertainment, news and current affairs with online content.

It is the everyday language of hundreds of thousand of Scots and influences the speech of everyone living in Scotland today
Billy Kay

The audit into the Scots language, compiled by Dr Rhys Evans of Integrate Consulting, said it was important that it featured prominently in the prospective channel's programming.

It also called for the Scottish Government to consider how new media such as the internet could be harnessed to increase access to Scots language services.

It said Scots language material in print, radio, television and film should be better promoted, and pointed out that although the Scots language does have a presence in the Scottish media, there is no central source and it can be difficult to know what is available.

The report concluded: "The audit found that provision for the Scots language in social and economic life is confined to individual projects and local or regional initiatives.

"The production of cultural goods such as books, plays, films or music in Scotland, and local festivals and events, directly contribute to the economic and social life of Scotland.

"An increased status for Scots as a language would have important economic and social consequences for Scots speakers and the provision of the language itself."

It said that there was currently no single lead organisation or person with an overall vision for Scots language provision.

Instead there were a number of individuals and organisations who, in pursuing their own agendas, operated as a loose collective, with Scots as their major concern.

'Economic asset'

The audit found strong provision in primary and higher education, and weaker provision in secondary schools and further education.

Welcoming publication of the audit, Culture Minister Linda Fabiani said it showed the Scots language was a "diverse and distinctive asset" and there was no doubt it was an integral part of Scotland's culture and national identity.

She added: "As we celebrate Homecoming Scotland 2009 and the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns, who of course wrote in Scots, the Scottish Government intends to capitalise upon the Scots language as a cultural and economic asset, and will consider how it can be further developed and promoted at home and abroad for social and economic gain.

"Tourism plays an important part in Scotland's economy, and we want to look at ways in which better promotion of Scots and its heritage has potential to generate further economic opportunities."

Broadcaster and Scots language advocate Billy Kay added: "The Scots language has for too long been the bonnie broukit bairn, the beautiful neglected child of Scottish culture, yet it is the language in which much of our history and much of our greatest literature is written.

"It is the medium of contemporary theatre, of brilliant comedy, of traditional folklore and song. It is the everyday language of hundreds of thousands of Scots and influences the speech of everyone living in Scotland today.

"Like all living things though, it needs to be nurtured, cherished and supported as a crucial strand in what makes us Scottish."

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