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17 June 2012

BBC iPlayer and Gaelic. Must do better

Dear BBC. 

I am a licencepayer who lives in the UK. Your attempt at an iPlayer service for Gaelic is a disgrace. 

1. The iPlayer itself is only available in English, a Gaelic version would not require much effort.  Open source free software has already been translated free of charge by volunteers. The same could apply to your software. Thanks for providing a Gaelic version of the iPlayer website but remembering my choice via a cookie would be helpful.

2. The iPlayer service needs to be better for the non satellite/cable users who cannot get BBC Alba on Freeview. Anyone outside of Scotland still can't get BBC Alba on Freeview.

3. When I looked just now pretty much the entire back catalog of Gaelic programmes consisted of programmes for children, learners, gardening or sport. Where are the music programmes ? Where are the news programmes? Where are the factual programmes? 

4. I might have been able to record "An La" but there was no "future record" or "series record" facility. I can do a "series record" for English programmes such as Trooping the colour which is on once a year, but not for a daily news programme to catch up and watch in the evening? Why?

5. Watching anything on an android device with flash installed? Site is hopeless! I have chrome, I have flash, your site says I don't have flash. I request the desktop site and I get "your mobile isn't supported". There's no "download and watch later option" when you do get it to work. Did you test this? You don't even mention tablets or phones on your supported browser list. Shocking.

6. None of the Eorpa programmes can be watched. Why? This is one of the best examples of Gaelic broadcasting. Your standard "See our FAQ" doesn't actually explain the specific reason why this internationally acclaimed programme isn't available to download. It's as if you want the people who are able to get it to actually put it on youtube for the benefit of everyone else. Your policy is indirect censorship

7. When I am on the BBC site I can filter for "Scotland" but can't subfilter for Gaelic within this. Why is this? Do you think the Scots are one homogeneous audience?

8. You're probably not obliged to provide input into the national plan for Gaelic, broadcasting not being a devolved subject, but it would be helpful if you detailed what your strategy was in relation to Gaelic as the media (particularly the excellent Radio nan Gaidheal and BBC Alba if you are lucky enough to receive them) are one of the key parts of the Gaelic revival.

9. The Piping Live programme, which I eventually found, has an English title and English description. Sorry, this made me think it was actually in English. Would it be possible to actually have Gaelic names for Gaelic programmes? Only when you click on more information do you get a hint it might be in Gaelic.

10. Since Gaelic is a language of Scotland, how about using the colour of the Saltire to represent the channel rather than a rather dull grey? This is what tourist attractions which have Gaelic audio guides such as the Clan Donald centre on Skye do. When was dull grey the national colour?

11. I click on a Gaelic news programme and your recommendation engine then thinks I should watch Top Gear in English. Some work required? How about a "top watched" on the Gaelic channel - this should be easy to implement, like so many things on your English medium news site there is a "most read/shared" facility. Missing from the Gaelic equivalent. This should be a simple plug in, can't you reuse on the Gaelic news site and for Gaelic iPlayer content?

12. The excellent Litir do Luchd-ionnsachaidh (all 674 weekly episodes) is available here on your podcast site but not on your iplayer site. Please make the iPlayer site consistent. Even a link to the podcast site would help.

I still believe that Gaelic should be promoted (not "Gaelic roots should be unearthed", that sounds like pulling a plant up and killing it). This includes you doing your bit too.

many thanks

Craig Cockburn


Anonymous said...

Actually it IS available in Gaelic, if you go to and scroll down to the bottom, just above the legal blurb.

Of course, it doesn't remember your choice so in theory you have to select it every time. DUH. I've told them several times to code somethint that remembers selection and picks browser language but no luck.

Unless you mean the player itself?

Anonymous said...

But overall fully agree (sorry, accidentally hit Publish). It sucks bigtimes, though in fairness, iPlayer on the whole sucks - I'm a victim of the latest update and can't, even after reinstalling, downloadn ANYthing. And of course my old downloads are gone too. ARGH

Craig Cockburn said...

Thanks for the comments, have updated the text slightly.

Unknown said...

I was shocked while in London not to be able to get it in the hotel. The channels went from 7 to 9. Seems deliberate as the channel could be made live with the flick of a switch. Scotland has accommodated London 2012, England should be able to accommodate Glaschu 2012 and give its UK viewers a proper choice. I noticed there was no Gaelic or indeed other Celtic language in the recent Britain in a Day (12.11.11). This too was shocking. I recall Alison Lang had submitted a Gaelic entry for inclusion to the programme.

Unknown said...

Jamie, BBC Alba is not available elsewhere in the UK via Freeview due to bandwidth constraints. Freeview is so overflowing with crap that there is no room left for anything else [apart from, of course, BBC HD, BBC One HD, BBC 2 HD, BBC Olympics HD etc. etc.]

The only reason we have BBC Alba on Freeview in Scotland is because they get rid of the radio channels in the evenings - hence why the channel's picture quality is so poor. It's being played out via the space left behind by radio broadcast streams!

As far as Craig's post goes, I fully agree. The BBC's attitude towards Gaelic, as well as Welsh and Irish, is pretty poor in general. I took them 4 years to update BBC Naidheachdan for God's sake!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Alasdair - so the BBC have been telling us! BT who supply most of the "bandwidth" capability from the BT Tower would probably say differently (I've been fortunate enough to have dined up in the restaurant and heard first-hand their incredible technical capabilities)! "Bandwidth" in this instance I believe is just a BBC political bargaining term being used as currency. The space is there, just not the willpower to grant it.

Jeffrey! said...

Gu dearbh! The situation is worse for Android using Cape Breton descendants in Canada -- no iPlayer, and from my iPad using friends, not much content apparently. There's not many of us but we'd be loyal fee payers all.

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