Page last updated at 09:37 GMT, Wednesday, 13 August 2008 10:37 UK

Launch date for Gaelic TV channel

Greg Hemphill, left, and Still Game co-star Ford Kiernan
Greg Hemphill, left, with Still Game co-star Ford Kiernan, will play Elvis

The new Gaelic television channel - BBC ALBA - will be launched on 19 September, it has been confirmed.

The channel will be available on satellite and cable throughout the UK, with content also available online.

The first night's programmes will include a new drama starring Greg Hemphill as Elvis.

The start date was welcomed by Alasdair Morrison, chairman of MG ALBA, which is a partner in the channel, and BBC Scotland controller Ken MacQuarrie.

Mr Morrison said: "The launch of BBC ALBA is a wonderful milestone for broadcasting.

"The most important priority for MG ALBA is that viewers and listeners receive high quality television, radio and online services, and I'm delighted that we are establishing this new service through the historic collaboration between MG ALBA and the BBC."

The service will cost 20.8m-per-year in total, of which GMS will contribute 10.1m and the BBC 10.7m
The BBC's total funding of 10.7m will consist of 7.2m already allocated to existing Gaelic services, 2.5m for new content and related spend and about 1m for distribution costs
The cost of carrying the service on Freeview is estimated at about 4m a year

Mr MacQuarrie said next month's launch was the realisation of a long-held ambition of the Gaelic community.

He added: "BBC ALBA will offer a new and enhanced service to the Gaelic audience and will also reach out to the wider Scottish audience by offering a range of attractive and compelling programmes."

Donald Campbell, MG ALBA's chief executive, said viewers would be able to see new Gaelic programmes every day.

He said: "On the first night we'll see a new drama starring Greg Hemphill as Elvis and a live concert from the Isle of Skye featuring some of Scotland's best musical talent.

"And over the coming months we'll be broadcasting a wide range of sport, news, children's programmes, documentaries and entertainment to appeal to young and old alike."

BBC ALBA will be available on Freeview, in Scotland only, after the digital switchover, subject to review by the BBC Trust.

The channel is a partnership between BBC Scotland and the government-funded MG ALBA, formerly the Gaelic Media Service.

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