GAELIC television viewers are receiving a “second-class service” dominated by repeats of old programmes, according to the company which helps run BBC Alba.

Bosses at MG Alba, which operates BBC Alba in partnership with the BBC, said it must be offered the “same opportunity to shine” as the new BBC Scotland channel, which launched last month.

It said Scotland’s Gaelic output was “severely challenged by a 75 per cent repeat rate”, while – unlike the new channel – BBC Alba is still not available in high definition.

Chair Allan MacDonald said moving away from standard definition and increasing the number of hours of original programming was a “major priority”.

He said: “We warmly congratulate our colleagues at BBC Scotland on an outstanding launch and we continue to wish them well as the channel comes to life in the months ahead.

“However, the launch of BBC Scotland has also served to shine a light on two significant concerns for the board of MG Alba around the delivery of BBC Alba, which has an unacceptably high 75% repeat rate and is still only available in standard definition on television.

“The BBC has committed to delivering 100 hours of additional content, and we look forward to this being delivered.

“At a time when other public service broadcast channels such as BBC One, STV, and the new BBC Scotland have adopted high definition as the ‘standard’ for TV delivery, it is a source of major concern that BBC Alba is seen as a poor relation available on television only in standard definition.

“Put simply, it is not acceptable for the viewers of BBC Alba to receive a second-class service in terms of picture quality.

“Whether it is powerful documentaries, thrilling live sport, the best break-through music channel or our seven-day news service, our viewers deserve to be – quite literally – getting the best picture.

“For us, this – and growing the hours of first-run programmes on the channel – is a major priority.

“On both counts, we look forward to our BBC partners making a clear commitment to a timescale for delivery.”

The new BBC Scotland channel launched on February 24 and operates on an annual budget of £32 million.

BBC director general Tony Hall said it was the “biggest single investment by the BBC in broadcast content in Scotland in over 20 years”.

It aims to have a 50/50 balance between original programming and repeats, and boasts a flagship, hour-long news programme at its centre.

Bosses previously indicated a new Scottish channel would lead to as much as 100 hours of additional content each year on BBC Alba, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last year.

A BBC spokesman said: “We thank MG Alba and Mr MacDonald for their positive comments about the new BBC Scotland channel.

“We look forward to meeting with Mr MacDonald in his new role as chair of our partner organisation MG Alba.”