Credit where credit is due. Finally, after days without coverage of the county there were three reports about Cumbria in BBC North West Tonight, presented by Eleanor Morris. The swimmer who swam all 13 lakes in the English Lake District was covered, there was a report on the rescue of a little boy who slipped and fell in Borrowdale, near Keswick and also a piece on Tebay Services on the M6- and how trade there has been impacted by the Coronavirus Lockdown (in addition to discussion of the knock-on effect on local suppliers). Programmers really pushed the boat out to make sure viewers on the northern fringes of the transmission area of BBC North West got good all- round coverage- as all three Cumbrian reports covered (or at least touched upon) parts of Cumbria just north of the BBC North West transmission area. This is to be commended.
Lancashire also received extensive coverage: Preston was on the first news- item because the Lancashire city is having lockdown restrictions re-imposed after a spike in Coronavirus cases- following Coronavirus restrictions imposed across East Lancashire and all of Greater Manchester last week (this was touched upon again too). There was also a report on a driver who killed a 14 year- old boy and a carer on the M58 near Ormskirk receiving an eight year prison sentence at Preston Crown Court. There were other reports on the Wirral (New Brighton area) and a couple of reports on Manchester. In short, something much nearer to the whole of North West England was covered thoroughly during the programme. Cheshire was the only county in the North West not to get covered, but even then they got a mention for their local rugby team (Warrington Wolves).
The downside, unfortunately, is that such news- bulletins are few and far between. Cumbria was covered well today, but it might not be covered at all next week. Lancashire is being covered well at the moment but in a few week’s time when the Coronavirus cases have died down it might get little coverage. The odd news reports on one’s county once a week (with nothing in between) is not good coverage of that part of North West England. Almost two million people live in Lancashire, South Cumbria and the Isle of Man and good effective news- coverage of the area is provided by having four or five items from the northern two-thirds of North West England (including parts of Cumbria beyond the transmission boundary) every night of the week. Bulletins like this evening’s North West Tonight (7th August) should be the norm, not the exception.
This really can only be achieved by shaving a minute off the Sports coverage (this won’t harm Sports fans- who have other outlets like Sky Sports) and making space for a couple of extra short news- reports so that all viewers in North West England feel they are getting good coverage of their area. Otherwise the Regional News- programmers won’t be able to cover Cumbria and Lancashire satisfactorily without inviting complaints from Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire (with viewers there complaining their areas are not being covered enough). The North West Region stretches from Cheshire to the Scottish Border, and a Regional News- programme advertised as covering the North West should cover this entire area in news -output (notwithstanding that viewers in northern Cumbria receive BBC Look North from Newcastle). Tonight’s bulletin is a demonstration that it can be done with the will to do it.
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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