Liverpool Football Club Win the Premier League for first time in thirty years- and North West Tonight covers little else!

For anyone living in the northern two-thirds of the English North West Liverpool Football Club’s historic win (the first time they won the Premier League in thirty years) was perhaps a very happy occasion for any that supported the team…but predictably for the rest of the viewers of BBC North West Tonight was certain to lead to despondency about the absence of any local coverage of the area. The Isle of Man had no coverage either!

Roger Johnson (the main TV Presenter) was at Anfield, where the big event happened, so great a priority was this for BBC North West to cover Liverpool Football Club. Only five other items of news were squeezed into five minutes of the 27-minute long Regional News programme- and they all covered Greater Manchester! Ditto ITV Granada- Wall to wall coverage of Liverpool Football Club and their great win.

I would not want to rain on the parade of celebrating Liverpool Football fans- some celebrated and got together a bit too much and forgot about the precautions still in-place because Britain is still in a pandemic: There were huge crowds at Anfield! However, I would wager that even the majority of viewers of BBC North West Tonight in even in Merseyside alone did not expect (or want) the main regional nightly news bulletin to be 70% taken up with Liverpool Football Club. Football is a Sport- and by definition a past-time that millions of folk enjoy- but it is not news. Major football clubs are already covered on Sky Sports and other Sports- related TV Channels today- football fans can- and do- watch all the matches of Premier League football clubs on live television. So why impose 70% coverage of the fans’ reactions on viewers who want to find out about bread- and- butter and real- life issues across the North West?

Football does not put bread on the table (unless one is a professional football player). A major football win doesn’t confer financial security or major life improvements for the fans of the football club, nor will it guarantee health for life or protect you from harm. It does NOTHING for the homeless, for the abused child in a big bruising family or the lonely autistic man hounded by vile neighbours. Nor is it relevant to farmers in Cumbria!

So Regional News should keep most of its coverage on actual NEWS- events tragic or great that make a material difference to people’s lives. Unemployment, a national Pandemic in the Region, bad weather, road accidents, businesses going bust or new investment in the North West, shops being smashed up in riots, people winning the lottery….these are things that directly impact on people’s lives, their friends and families lives, on people’s finances and heath. Football matches as a rule do not do that- unless there is huge unrest and mass violence at a match: The one thing that can be said in defence of major league football teams winning in the North West is that it does- to some extent bring fans, football clubs attract higher advertising and there is a boost to the economy in the North West. On the flip-side of that, the huge cost for ordinary folk attending matches and season tickets (£869 for a single adult attending Liverpool Football Club for 2019-2020) would- to some extent- impoverish many families on low incomes.

People living in Lancashire and South Cumbria account for 1.5 million viewers. Sport takes away air-time on BBC North West Tonight that could give coverage of their area. There have been two murders in West Cumbria in the last few days and the good folk of Millom, in south-west Cumbria (who receive BBC North West output and no more than 35 miles from the site of both murders) might have been interested to know about this- but of course BBC North West just doesn’t do northern Cumbria, even though it is still part of North West England because it is beyond their “Patch”. There was also the matter of a 70 year-old man found dead in a remote location near Sedbergh , in the south-east of Cumbria (he went missing on Wednesday) and there has been the not-insignificant matter of a number of the lakes in the Lake District getting a poisonous green algae (and given the recent hot weather that is a public health issue that a number of tourists who have travelled from Manchester and Lancashire need to be informed of).

I am sorry to say but, even Liverpool Football Club’s big win (and it was without doubt a big win) does not trump warning potentially hundreds of people against the risk of being poisoned should they go for a dip in Lake Windermere (which is still inside the north of BBC North West’s “Patch”, as they might call it).

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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