19th May 2018
I aim to look at how the perception of Regional Programming changes within the North West of England that those making the programmes need to bear in mind. What people in the North West of England consider to be “North West” will vary as one travels north from Cheshire, through Greater Manchester, northwards to Lancashire and then into Cumbria. What viewers in Cumbria and the northern half of Lancashire must consider to be the North West proper- is that it is those areas with the Irish Sea, rather than Wales to the west and for which it is very clear that they are not in the Midlands in any way shape or form.
Thus viewers of Regional Television in Kendal or Carnforth will have a different perspective of what North West England is than viewers in Macclesfield or Malpas: The viewers in Kendal and Carnforth would consider full coverage of the entire North West Region to extend right up to the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle whilst Cheshire viewers would consider coverage as far north as the South Lakes and Barrow to be more than adequate- but they would expect that coverage to include northern Staffordshire, Shropshire and even north-east Wales because they would consider such locations as “North West”- even though north-east Wales is clearly not part of North West England. On the flip side of that viewers of North West Regional Television in Cumbria or northern Lancashire could be quite annoyed that their regional news covers any part of Wales or Staffordshire whilst giving little coverage of Cumbria or northern Lancashire.
For viewers of North West Regional Television in South Cumbria, the North West of England includes all of their county of Cumbria right up to the Scottish border but they really might not consider Cheshire to be in the North West; they would certainly not consider northern Derbyshire (which is covered in BBC North West and ITV Granada output) to be part of the North West. Many North Cumbrians in fact consider Manchester to be in the Midlands- which is why they reacted so vehemently against receiving BBC North West Tonight (with its Manchester- Liverpool heavy news-output) in the late 1980’s !
It is vital that both the BBC and ITV Granada provide a North West Regional news service tailored to their viewers in all parts of their transmission area. If this requires further efficiencies from both organisations to make monies available for opt-out or indeed separate regional programming for their more northerly viewers to achieve the aim of making regional output relevant and fitting for all their viewers, then so be it.
The Isle of Man, by the way, is a separate nation state in its own right. It deserves and needs its own opt-out programming out from the main BBC North West and ITV Granada output.