The BBC Should Not Be Cutting North West Tonight’s excellent News- Presenters and Weather Presenter to save money

The Coronavirus Pandemic (and associated Lockdown) has hit the BBC hard and it has to find £125 million of savings this year. So, what does it do?

The BBC plans to focus on Regional Television, which provides a vital Regional and Local service to folk across the country to make savings of £25 million by March 2022. The BBC are planning for 450 job- losses and are seeking to find these from the BBC Regional Television and BBC Local Radio Budgets. This is completely the wrong area for the BBC to cut, and indeed, in Regions like the North West and North East of England there is a need for greater- not less- resources to provide good, effective local news coverage at the northernmost fringes of the BBC Regions for both the North West and North East of England.

BBC Regional and Local News on the television, online and on the radio are a lifeline for the elderly and those in remote rural communities, such as in Cumbria or North Lancashire. It is therefore unacceptable to make economies this way by cutting vital public services like Regional News. And that includes sacking popular news- presenters who have a good rapport with the viewers- and whatever faults there may be in how much BBC North West programming covers Cumbria or North Lancashire their presenters are articulate and popular. The main news- presenter Roger Johnson, the other popular news- presenter Annabel Tiffin and the charismatic Weather- presenter Owain Wyn Evans are like a family to scores of elderly folk who live on their own in the North West- and the BBC’s plan to make redundancies here should be resisted to the full. Indeed there is a campaign in the North West to try to stop the “North West Tonight Family” being broken up (more here: ).

The BBC could make huge savings in one area given that it is supposed to be the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) not the International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC): The BBC currently spends at least £1.24 a month per British TV License-payer towards paying for the BBC World Service ( Just why are people in this country paying for the BBC to provide news- services for people in other countries? When you multiply this by twelve to get the annual cost per license-payer, then multiply by the number of TV License- payers in Britain (27 million households) you come to the fact that the BBC pays over £401 billion per annum of British tax-payers money every year to pay for the provision of news watched by people in other countries: The BBC is not the IBC, it is there to serve people in this country- not to provide news in Spanish for folk living in the city of Guayaquil on the coast of Ecuador (as an example).

If the BBC want to offer services for folk in far- flung countries let them become self- financing by offering folk there a service through paid subscription (or, if they want to offer the service for free to poor Ethiopians the BBC could try and raise money through advertising, product- placement in programmes or by charging a slightly higher subscription fee to paying users). And if they can’t raise money on the open market, the BBC should make economies there and cut pay-for services that are not financially viable.

However, the recent news-report that the BBC need to make savings of £125 million this year- and next (see here: is a sizeable sum of money. But they can- and must- totally protect Regional Television from these cuts and cut the BBC’s equivalent of the Government’s bloated Foreign Aid budget: That is the £401 million of British TV License- payers’ money used each year to pay for the BBC World Service! Cutting the BBC World Service by a third, perhaps by axing the programme in countries hostile to Britain (like Iran and Russia) and not airing from to local time (and making it subscription only in some countries, like the USA) would raise £133 million a year and leave £8 million to spare. That £8 million can be put into better (and more localised) Regional Television for the good people who pay for it- TV License- fee payers in North West England (and in Northumberland which suffers from Tyneside/ Teesside-dominated output)!

In addition trimming some of the excess pay of the BBC’s top stars (like Gary Lineker on £1,750,000 a year- see here could pay even more towards the cost of a new BBC North West Region for Cumbria, Lancashire and the Isle of Man. And the BBC could stop wasting ££ millions, like the £25 million for a complete new set for the soap East Enders!

The BBC must remember that it is not the International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) and take note that, in tough times, Charity Begins at Home!

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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