If you thought BBC North West Tonight was covering Cumbria a bit more regularly- and it certainly began to seem that way- then another week without any Cumbrian news- coverage on the BBC’s flagship main news-bulletin for North West England comes along to squash any hopes that South Cumbrian and North Lancastrian viewers might have had. Lancashire is actually getting quite a bit of coverage as a result of rising cases of Coronavirus in Blackburn, the Pendle area and (tonight) Rochdale was under the spotlight because of a jump in cases of the novel coronavirus in the town. It is good that Lancashire is being covered better, but the northern half of the geographical North West has (for the last few days) had absolutely no coverage on a Regional News-programme whose name suggests it covers the North West of England completely.
Meanwhile BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria) has covered the fact that two men were arrested for the suspected murder of a woman at Cleator Moor, in West Cumbria. And another man, who lived at Salterbeck near Workington, was sent to prison for repeated sexual offences against a 14- year old girl. Both (arguably) serious news- matters, both less than 25 miles just north of the BBC North West “Patch” but both very much “North West” matters since Cleator Moor and Salterbeck (near Workington) are actually further west than Liverpool and Blackpool. And Cumbrian viewers of BBC North West Tonight, particularly those around Millom, should be informed of such developments since it is highly likely that some people would know the victims- and because sexual predators and murderers travel about- the South Cumbrian public have a right to know if there are dangerous people around not so far away.
The BBC Programmers for North West Tonight (ditto ITV Granada Reports) must make space in their nightly bulletins for serious or significant happenings in Cumbria: This needs to happen not just once in a while but there should be one or two items about Cumbria every day- even if the news is just outside the transmission area because communities don’t have hard borders like the BBC in the North West and ITV Granada do.
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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