News that the BBC has backed down on plans that would have left radio listeners in Orkney and Shetland unable to access a number of digital stations via their televisions at certain times is ‘simple common sense’ according to Isles MP Alistair Carmichael.

Last year the BBC announced that digital radio services in Scotland would be reduced at certain times of the day to accommodate a new Gaelic language service available via freeview television.

In a letter to Mr Carmichael, the Director of the BBC confirmed that the broadcaster has managed to reengineer facilities so that the digital radio stations BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC 1Xtra and BBC 6 Music will all still be available on a 24 hour basis through digital television boxes alongside the new Gaelic service. These are the most popular services that are not also available on FM.

The BBC have also confirmed that they are planning to extend their digital radio services in the Northern Isles in 2011, with 2 new DAB transmitting stations due to begin broadcasting from Shetland in September.

Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:

‘It is of course important to some parts of Scotland that Gaelic is protected. I recognise the contribution that the BBC has made in this area. However, it simply would not be fair for the majority of Scots to have their radio services disrupted in the manner that had been proposed.

‘People in Wales are able to access both Welsh language and BBC digital services through their televisions and I see no reason why this should not also be the case in Scotland. This change of heart on the part of the BBC is simple common sense and good news for all who rely on their televisions to access BBC digital services.’

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