13th July 2020. Better coverage of Lancashire and Cumbria on BBC North West Tonight. But fatal Cumbrian road smash very near the transmission boundary should be covered.

There are tentative signs that BBC North West Tonight might be improving coverage of the northern two- thirds of North West England- although one seasoned watcher of BBC North West Tonight will point out that there were similar “false dawns” in the past. Anyway, one should not be churlish!

This evening’s main BBC North West bulletin had two good news items covering Lancashire: Firstly, there was the continuing situation concerning Coronavirus in Blackburn, with authorities there now considering local lock-down measures if they don’t get the situation under control. Secondly, there was coverage of a tourism initiative on Lancashire’s Fylde Coast- where the initiative had an emphasis on encouraging disabled people to visit various sites of interest. There was also extensive coverage of Cumbria where fell-runner Sabrina Verjee completed all 214 “Wainwright Peaks” (so called after the 20th century Lake District mountaineer and author Alfred Wainwright) in little over six days. There was also fell-runner Kim Collison who ran and scaled 78 peaks in less than 24 hours- beating the previous record and this was covered too. With Lancashire and Cumbria getting three out of the eleven news- items covered this does look like improvement.

However, two items of news about Cumbria should should have made BBC North West Tonight over the last few days happened only just outside the transmission boundary and one of these involved a motor-cyclist who lived in Worsley, near Manchester. The motor-cyclist, a 72 year-old man died after his motorbike collided head-on with another vehicle on Saturday 11th July near the A683 junction on the A685 at Ravenstonedale, a village between Tebay and Kirkby Stephen in south-east Cumbria (details of the incident here: https://www.cumbriacrack.com/2020/07/12/biker-killed-in-ravenstonedale-collision/). The fact that it was a fatal road- accident, the fact that it involved the death of someone who lived in the south of the BBC North West transmission area and the fatal incident only happened a few miles north of the BBC North West transmission boundary (and witnesses to the collision could live in the north of the BBC North West transmission zone- who could be encouraged to contact Cumbria Police about the incident)- all demonstrate that space should have been found in BBC North West’s news- coverage to cover it.

The second item that should have been touched upon is the rise in Coronavirus cases in Carlisle in recent days. This I have touched upon in a recent post, pointing out that the City of Carlisle is within an hour’s drive (or train journey) of North Lancashire and South Cumbria- and thus it is a Public Health concern that people in the north of the BBC North West transmission area have not (and will not) be advised of Coronavirus in Carlisle- simply because it is beyond the transmission boundary: It could have been covered as an aside to the extensive coverage on the situation in Blackburn.

It all demonstrates that there is still a propensity by BBC North West not to cover northern Cumbria because it is beyond their “Patch”, even though this is still part of North West England and concerning quite serious events. This rigid policy does not make for good all- round news coverage for folk living in South Cumbria or northern Lancashire.

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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