9th July 2020: Better coverage across much more of North West England on BBC North West Tonight.

When BBC North West Tonight shows signs (and intent) towards improving news- coverage across the northern two- thirds of North West England it is good to point this out. Tonight’s Regional Bulletin (with the wonderful Annabel Tiffin) is a case in-point: Out of ten big news stories there were two about Cumbria (and part of a third also concerning Cumbria). These were news items about Barrow Football Club’s getting a new manager, the funeral of the father and two children (from Dalton in Furness, near Barrow) killed by a drunk driver on Father’s Day and a hotel in Ambleside featured in the news- item about more service- based businesses being allowed to open.

Lancashire also featured: There was a major spread about Blackpool Pleasure Beach re-opening (with donkeys giving rides to children) for the first time since the Coronavirus Lockdown. There was also a news -item about Scarisbrick Hall School, near Ormskirk, in West Lancashire where the High School children have been communicating with children in almost 200 other countries via Zoom following the Coronavirus Crisis (through a global project connecting young people all around the World).

And there was still plenty of room for coverage of events in Liverpool, Manchester and in Cheshire too. This proves that it is possible to provide news- coverage that is seen as fair and balanced for every corner of North West England. The programmers at BBC North West Tonight should do this more often.

The BBC North West weather- forecast appears to indicate a possible Statement of Intent: The outlook for improving weather featured four principal locations across the North West of England- Manchester, Liverpool and Chester in the south of the Region – and Keswick (close to the very heart of Cumbria and slightly north of (and outside) the BBC North West transmission boundary. But there it is- Keswick- because it is in Cumbria and very much part of North West England.

I also noticed a little clip on BBC North West Tonight’s Facebook page the other day: It was about a tourist attraction, at Braithwaite near Keswick called Alpacaly Ever After- where tourists can go and see a whole community of alpacas! It is to be hoped that these Statements of Intent reflect a commitment to cover Cumbria better- including those parts of the county to the north of BBC North West’s transmission area- so that Cumbrian viewers of BBC North West Tonight get better all- round local news-coverage: We shall see!

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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