Boosting Our Economy - Celebrating Our Culture - Enhancing Our Children's Education

Boosting Our Economy - Celebrating Our Culture - Enhancing Our Children's Education

Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund


Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund Digital Application Call: Funding Closed.

 The Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund (USBF) is seeking digital projects that reflect aspects of Ulster-Scots language, culture and heritage and have the potential to reach a local and international audience. These projects will be delivered online and intended for a range of audiences. These might include adults of all ages, school-based learners (any Key Stage) and learners of all ages outside the school system.

Proposals for digital productions should be distinctly different from those intended for linear broadcast including, but not limited to, gaming and interactive content. Without the requirement of and marketing support from a broadcaster, producers should include a social media marketing plan to demonstrate how they intend to reach an online audience.

Specific guidance on the type of projects envisaged is detailed below.


Registered independent companies with a permanent agency in Northern Ireland.

The USBF will accept co-production arrangements where the co-producer does not have a permanent agency in Northern Ireland provided the project and the co- production clearly fulfil all the stated criteria and the project, in the view of the Investment Committee, contributes more significantly to the aims of the USBF than a similar project without the co-production arrangement.


The USBF is looking for digital projects that will contribute to the promotion and understanding of Ulster-Scots heritage, culture and language including:

  • Projects with strong Ulster-Scots language and/or literature content
  • Projects that will appeal to and have links with both the local Ulster-Scots community and wider Ulster-Scots/Scotch-Irish diaspora
  • Projects that reflect significant Ulster-Scots anniversaries such as 2026’s 250th anniversary of the US Declaration of Independence and 2024’s 50th anniversary of the publication of John Hewitt’s Rhyming Weavers
  • Projects that include interactive and gaming elements
  • Digital or online content that has an association with radio or television content
  • Tourism-related content
  • Projects intended for school-based audiences and designed to help support teachers embed aspects of Ulster-Scots in Northern Ireland Curriculum-based learning
  • Content capable of being hosted on – or linked to – existing portals or platforms


There are 2 key challenges for these types of project. Firstly, the need to explain how a digital project will reach its target audience. This requires the producer to be explicit about how maximum reach/audience can be achieved. This may involve partnerships with third parties such as recognised interest groups, local councils or organisations responsible for delivering education and promoting tourism.

The second is to evidence the necessary quality of the project without the benefit of a television broadcaster both ensuring and endorsing the standard of the content. This requires the producer to engage with an Ulster-Scots Consultant at all stages of production from development to delivery.


The applicant must include a social media marketing plan to demonstrate how it plans to promote its content and reach an online audience. This could be demonstrated by:

  • Hosting on or linking to an online portal that already reaches an identified audience
  • A dynamic marketing strategy that can help awareness of the project spread in a viral manner (eg collaboration with partners such as councils, tourism bodies and social media influencers)
  • With formal education content, a commitment from CCEA and/or the Education Authority to make the materials available and distributed to all interested schools

Substantial Audience

There is no fixed definition of a ‘substantial audience’ although for general audience content there is some guidance in noting that the success criteria for a television production broadcast is 40,000 viewers. Digital content delivered online is capable of reaching comparable audiences.

Smaller audiences may be acceptable where the audience is highly engaged – evidenced through the interaction. For example, a content proposal that could evidence that it would be made available to every primary school in Northern Ireland and had reason to expect that a significant number of primary schools would actively engage with the content, would be extremely compelling despite the fact that this audience number would be approximately 11,000.

In all instances, there will be 2 aspects to assessing the substantial audience criteria; that is, the level of availability of the content, and the actual number of people likely to be reached. Once again, the availability test will be assessed on rather more than the content’s presence on a website but rather the extent to which an audience can be evidenced to be clearly made aware of the content.


For a digital content application to the USBF to be successful, it must provide compelling evidence that the quality of the project or content will be of the highest level.

The following list may provide some guidance:

  • the experience of the team involved in the project is an important factor
  • endorsement by other experienced assessors of the relevant content might also address this issue
  • in formal education, programming endorsement by CCEA and/or the EA that the content was directly relevant to the curriculum in a manner consistent with the general priorities of the Fund would be helpful


The use of suitably experienced/qualified Ulster-Scots and (where appropriate) Educational consultants is essential. The nature of the project will determine the experience and expertise of the consultant(s) required.


The USBF requires that all projects include 25% match funding. This can be as company or third party cash or ‘in kind’ equivalent or broadcaster finance.


Please contact Heidi McAlpin, Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund Executive, ([email protected]) to discuss a potential application before applying. After this discussion a link to the online application form will be sent out.

All applicants must complete an online application form. Please ensure that all supporting documentation is submitted either online with your application or via email to the USBF ([email protected]).

Failure to provide the requested supporting documentation will result in your application being eliminated from the call.


250th Anniversary of the US Declaration of Independence in 2026:  Funding Closed.

Development Call

The Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund is seeking no more than a one-page proposal around the 250th anniversary of the US Declaration of Independence in 2026.

Proposals must be written with an American and/or network audience in mind. We would like to see ambitious, innovative and thought-provoking ideas in any genre telling the often overlooked and under-represented story of the Ulster-Scots/Scotch-Irish in this period of history.

Proposals will be shortlisted and successful companies invited to apply for development funding commensurate with the project’s scale, ambition and intended reach.


On 4th July 2026, the USA will mark the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. This pivotal moment in history was largely driven by the Founding Fathers of the United States, many of whom were of Ulster-Scots/Scotch-Irish descent.

These emigrants first arrived in America in the 18th and 19th centuries and went on to play leading roles in the foundation of many of the USA’s key institutions and areas encompassing politics, industry, banking, architecture, engineering and commerce. Their influence also spread to cultural endeavours with many famous Ulster-Scots people making significant contributions to the fields of music, literature, acting and art. Alongside their successful endeavours, the early Scotch-Irish people in America lived in a time of slave ownership which provides challenges and opportunities in telling their broader story in an honest and uncompromising way.

With all this in mind, we strongly encourage engagement with an Ulster-Scots Consultant to shape your ideas and deliver an accurate and authoritative account of the subject.


The 250th anniversary directly connects with the Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund’s remit to reflect Ulster-Scots heritage, culture and language. Your proposal needs to succinctly explain why the story of the Ulster-Scots/Scotch-Irish is significant to the story of the foundation and development of the USA in this upcoming anniversary year.


To mark the role of the Ulster-Scots in the founding and development of the United States of America, the Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund is seeking to support development for landmark documentaries or series reflecting this anniversary. This can encompass any genre of storytelling and could also be multiplatform, including a digital element.

The intended UK network and American audience is key to the development of your project. Think about how similar stories are told both nationally and internationally in terms of scale, talent and technology. Consider key on and off-screen talent and how it would appeal to a network and/or American broadcaster or streamer.

Do you have a fresh and insightful angle on this story? Can you bring talent to the project – on-screen and/or off? Do you have the vision to utilise technology to deliver a really groundbreaking programme or series? We are not looking for a programme or series for a local audience covering ground already explored in this subject.


This stage of development does not require a broadcaster to be attached. This is to allow the focus to be exclusively on the treatment and to avoid unintentionally locking out the international audience we seek to reach.


If you would like to talk about your idea or discuss the use of an Ulster-Scots Consultant at this stage, please contact Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund Executive Heidi McAlpin, [email protected].

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