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.