South Cumbrian viewers of BBC North West Tonight must be getting heartily sick of being ignored. For a week-and-a-bit now we have had nothing north of Preston on the flagship BBC Regional Programme for North West England, nothing for the northern two- thirds of the geographical North West of England. The Isle of Man has had an item of news- coverage almost daily (which it should, by the way, because of its isolated location) and it has a population of 85,000 tops. South Cumbrians, who receive North West Tonight and number 200,000 have had no coverage of their county.
I see the shops have all opened in Manchester and Liverpool after the Coronavirus shutdown, excellent coverage of that. Good coverage of the flooding at Milnrow, not far from Rochdale and social- distancing/ wearing masks on trains going from Manchester and flights resuming from Liverpool. But flash-flooding caused a serious accident on the M6 near Kendal this afternoon- leading to serious congestion on the M6: No coverage of that. A man has now been charged with murder after a man died in Barrow and this was not reported on at all on BBC North West Tonight (this was on BBC Look North (NE/ Cumbria) as Look North goes out of its way to report on significant happenings in south Cumbria for the benefit of their North Cumbrian viewers).
And because, unlike BBC Look North, BBC North West really dont report anything beyond their transmission areas even just a few miles hundreds of North West Gypsies recently travelled to Appleby Fair- only to find out that they had made a wasted journey. Alas BBC North West Tonight never even mentioned Appleby Fair, the largest annual gathering for Gypsies in Europe and the all- important fact that Appleby Fair this year was cancelled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Of course, BBC North West don’t do any reports from Appleby, in Cumbria’s Eden Valley because it is 15 miles beyond their “Patch”. So hundreds of North West Gypsies- one of the poorest and vulnerable people- groups in the Region- made a wasted journey by horseback. That is what I would call a dereliction of Public duty!
Published by northwestisnorthwest
My name is Ian Pennell and I am a freelance Book-keeper: I live near Alston, in the North Pennines in north-east Cumbria. I have friends who live in northern North West England - near Lancaster (which is where I went to University and used to live until 17 years ago) and in other parts of Cumbria. I have two Website Campaigns that seek to promote more localised Regional TV coverage for large rural areas across the North of North West England and North East England. .
A big problem is that the Regional Television Bulletins for the North West covers the southern third of the Region about 90% (plus a part of Derbyshire which is NOT the North West of England), covers the middle third of North West England poorly and covers the northern third of North West England not at all! When I was studying at Lancaster University, I used to watch BBC1 North West Tonight because it covered areas up around where I was brought up- in northern Cumbria as well as more immediately locally around Lancaster. Then I came home one day, turned on BBC1 North West Tonight wondering why they were silent on Cumbria and discovered why: Most of Cumbria had been chopped off the weather-map! .
People living in the westernmost part of North West England (around St. Bees Head) have local BBC news on their televisions which is 90% about North East England!
In rural and northern Northumberland too, Regional TV, as is received by viewers, tends too often to be Tyneside/ Wearside/ Teesside- focussed with little news locally. Communities in North Northumberland have strong links across the Border into south-east Scotland and towards Edinburgh but none of the Regional TV News- services serving Northumberland today ever goes across the Scottish Border for significant happenings of interest to North Northumbrians. I have also done walking in the area, including around the Cheviots in the past- and the Northumberland/ Scottish Borders/ East and Mid Lothian area is vast- but it is largely overlooked by mainstream Regional TV! .
North Yorkshire, the largest county in England also falls in the gaps between coverage from BBC Look North (NE/ Cumbria) or ITV1 News Tyne Tees in the north of the county, and the Leeds-based BBC1 and ITV1 Regional TV- services in the south of the county: North Yorkshire is a huge, yet beautiful county, which I have visited and explored in the past, yet is poorly covered in Regional TV. .
Based near Alston, near the Cumbria/ Northumberland boundary I am well-placed to discuss Regional TV in all these large rural areas, in which collectively some two million folk live, yet they are poorly covered by the Regional TV News- services set up to serve them. These huge areas are an hour to two hours' drive from where I live: North Lancashire and South/ West Cumbria are to the south-west, Northumberland and the Scottish Borders and Lothian are to the north and north-east, and North Yorkshire is to the south-east of my home near Alston. I am well-placed to draw attention to deficiencies in Regional TV coverage for folk in all these areas. The North Pennines, where I live, is arguably another large area that touches on the other three where Regional TV coverage falls through the gaps completely (and that is despite the North Pennines running north to south down the middle of the BBC1 NE/ Cumbria Region). .
In two websites, one for northern North West England and the Isle of Man (a country in it's own right that does not have it's own TV service!), and another Website focussing on Northumberland, North Yorkshire and the North Pennines I make the point that Regional TV that informs viewers of important things in their local area is a Public Service, funding for which should be given a higher priority (and if necessary via statute through the BBC's Charter), than funding for Soaps, Films or Sport- which are for leisure. I also give viewers the tools to fight effectively for better- and more geographic-appropriate Regional TV where they live- and to seek it through alternative (often little-known) local TV services, some of which may only be available on the Internet.
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