A one-man Campaign to improve Regional Television in Cumbria and Lancashire
BBC North West Tonight. Coverage of the rise in Coronavirus cases in Blackburn- but not Cumbria! BBC Look North covers death of Jack Charlton (brother of Sir Bobby Charlton) – no mention of Coronavirus!
The weekend is upon us- and BBC North West does not cover Cumbria- perhaps no surprises there! But whilst they are mentioning that there has been a rise in Coronavirus cases in the Blackburn-with-Darwen Borough Council area (not knocking the coverage of Lancashire, by the way, more is needed), they might have added that Cumbria has seen a rise in cases- particularly in the Carlisle area.
This is important because it is summer-time and (at the weekend) folk travel from the urban conurbations in North West England to the Lake District: People could catch this nasty virus and spread it further. So it is a Public Health concern that folk living in the North West (outside Cumbria) are warned about the rise in cases in Cumbria, not just Cumbrian viewers of BBC and ITV Regional Television in the North West. Prestonians, warned about the virus in Blackburn- and who fancy a day out of Preston could hop on the train and- in an hour (or just over)- be in Carlisle. Whose duty is it to warn them, lest they pick up a potentially deadly virus unawares?
BBC North West Tonight’s apparent refusal to cover anything, even quite serious news, just outside their transmission area is not acceptable when lives could be at stake.
BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria) also did no better in tonight’s bulletin: It actually broadcasts to Carlisle and northern Cumbria yet the entire five-minute bulletin was taken up with the death- at 85 years of age- of Jack Charlton- brother of famous footballer Sir Bobby Charlton: Both were part of the England Team in 1966, when England won the World Cup. He was (and is) undoubtedly a football legend; however there is a Public Health crisis and folk who live not just in northern Cumbria but as far east as Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead need to be warned about a spike in Coronavirus cases in Carlisle lest Geordies visit Carlisle on a day out (or go to the Lake District over the weekend) and bring the virus back to the North East of England unawares!
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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