South Cumbria is Definitely in North West England. There should Never Be a situation where BBC North West covers NOTHING from Cumbria for Six Days- but BBC North East covers two South Cumbrian news items (plus a further two Cumbrian items) over a weekend!

This weekend -of 18th/ 19th July 2020 illustrates something very amiss with BBC Regional Television in the North West and North East of England: It is that Cumbria has not been covered at all all weekend on BBC (and nothing about Cumbria has been covered for six days) whilst BBC Look North (North East and Cumbria) has covered four Cumbrian news items over the weekend- two of them about South Cumbria which is outside their transmission boundary.

The people who need to see South Cumbrian news, in the main, live in South Cumbria. It is what is Immediate Local news to folk who live there (see yesterday’s post about Localness: ). South Cumbria gets BBC North West output and whilst BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria) goes out of its way to cover South Cumbrian news for the benefit of their North Cumbrian viewers, the same news- items get no coverage at all in BBC North West Tonight. One of the South Cumbrian news- items concerned an Auction House near Milnthorpe- not far from the Cumbria/ Lancashire boundary ( Milnthorpe, which I used as an example to illustrate what is “Immediate Local” and “Regionally Local” to the South Cumbrian town, is fairly close to the geographical heart of North West England yet it only featured on BBC Look North- broadcast from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Folk living in Milnthorpe never got to hear about the thriving Auction House near where they live- either from ITV Granada or from BBC North West Tonight but Geordies living in Newcastle-upon-Tyne -over 100 miles away and two and a half hours’ drive from Milnthorpe- did.

If the BBC Regions decide something is significant enough to be broadcast, they must make sure it reaches the ears of the appropriate audiences. In fact BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria) perhaps cover a bit too much of South Cumbria and need to cover a bit more of North Northumberland and even into the Scottish Borders (so that folk in northern Northumberland get good all-round coverage). Instead, it is BBC North West that needs to take up a bit more of the flak and cover Cumbria properly (even those areas to the north of their transmission boundary).

Indeed, BBC North West Tonight must cover North West England, not just part of it whilst BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria) must not neglect its own northern hinterland- rural Northumberland and overlapping into the Scottish Borders. We should not have the absurd situation whereby neither BBC North West nor ITV Granada (which is supposed to cover North West England too) do not cover the northern half of the English North West for six days- but the BBC Regional News- service that covers North East England produces four news items from the northern half of North West England over just the weekend!

The BBC must produce news that is locally relevant to all viewers of Regional Television. To that end, North West news should be produced for North West viewers and North East news should be produced for North East viewers (and North East viewers should not have to contend with much of their bulletins taken up with North West news that is not relevant to them)! South Cumbrian news- if any is produced (and there should be some)- should be for South Cumbrian viewers and (if it is really significant) those South Cumbrian viewers will want to see what is happening elsewhere in Cumbria!

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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