ITV is privately run, it’s revenue comes from advertising and some sponsoring of programmes. It also gets some income from ITV Hub- its online advert-free subscription service which it has recently expanded. Viewers pay £3.99 a month to view ITV programmes (including ITV Regional News programmes) online. Being dependent (as it is) on viewers (from subscription services and income from advertisements that companies will only place if viewer- numbers are high), ITV has to adapt what it offers to bring in higher viewer numbers. The BBC, with its income protected via the Television License fee, is somewhat protected from market forces and so (despite the BBC Charter requiring it to produce high quality news and documentaries relevant to all its viewers) does not necessarily produce higher- quality and more localised Regional News programming across Scotland and Northern England despite having significantly higher revenue than ITV and STV combined: STV produces independent television programming in central and northern Scotland.
Of relevance to Regional News programming for northern North West England (i.e. Cumbria and Northern Lancashire) is the fact that northern and central Cumbria get excellent bespoke news- coverage from ITV Border: The ITV Border Region has separate programming for southern Scotland transmitted from the transmitter at Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, so Cumbrian viewers of ITV Border get highly localised Regional News that is 55 to 60% about Cumbria: The big future concern (as I pointed out in the article from the other day- more here https://northwestisnorthwest.org/2020/08/21/the-northern-half-of-north-west-england-is-sidelined-by-the-bbc-and-by-itv-granada/), is ITV Border being amalgamated and absorbed into ITV Tyne Tees, should ITV. Plc. have a cost-cutting drive in future.
However, one way for the possibility of ITV being tempted to mothball ITV Border (or amalgamate it into the ITV Tyne Tees Region) in future would be to increase the ITV Border area in size and population (by including all South Cumbria and Northern Lancashire in its transmission area)- so that the critical mass of the ITV Border Region is such that such “temptation” is more certain to be resisted. This can be done whilst still keeping the ITV Border Region (English part) small enough Cumbria retains excellent local news-coverage. It can be done- all without increasing the number of opt-outs or having to greatly increase resources overall. Crucially, for viewers in South Cumbria and Northern Lancashire (that is north of a line from Blackpool to Burnley)- who currently receive ITV Granada (which scarcely covers South Cumbria and Northern Lancashire, and never northern Cumbria), their transfer to the English version of ITV Border would massively up-rate the amount of local news- coverage those areas receive. South Cumbria and northern Lancashire would be transferred to a Television Region with a population of seven million to one that would, effectively be, just over one million (one million people live in Cumbria and Northern Lancashire- the area that would be receiving the English version of ITV Border).
Such a move would do little to dilute ITV Border’s coverage of Cumbria and southern Scotland since the Scottish version of ITV Border would not be affected (since it is effectively a different transmission area much of the time), ITV Border already covers all of Cumbria in its news-output (even those places, like Barrow-in-Furness and Ulverston that don’t receive ITV Border), so the only addition would be coverage of northern Lancashire- with some overlap to South Lancashire for the benefit of the new northern Lancashire viewers of ITV Border. After all, ITV Border did once cover the Isle of Man, the need to do that will have diluted coverage of Cumbria and southern Scotland- and viewers right across the ITV Border Region were perfectly satisfied with their Regional Programming then!
There was a time, prior to 1982, when what was Granada Television, was transmitted to all of South Cumbria- right up to Grasmere and Tebay: All of those areas received the ITV Granada news. Then Cumbria County Council and the local community demanded change- the local area was passed over too much in favour of Manchester, Liverpool and Cheshire- so in 1982 the area including and immediately north of Kendal- including Ambleside, Windermere, Grasmere and- to the east- Sedbergh were switched to (what was then) Border Television’s remit and (in the process) received much more localised news- output: When a community comes together and demands change the Regional Television news- producers have to respond.
A similar (and more dramatic result) was the very strong lobby, involving local MP’s and people across entire communities in (mainly) North Cumbria- objecting vehemently to the BBC’s decision to transfer North Cumbria to BBC North West in 1986, (so that folk living in Carlisle and surrounding areas- received 90% coverage of Manchester, Liverpool and South Lancashire). The BBC remained adamant that all of Cumbria stay in the BBC North West Region, and produced a Cumbrian opt-out (only covering the lunchtime news) hoping that this would placate and satisfy them: It didn’t and eventually the community protests (with the help of a new Director General arriving at the BBC having a different idea about what BBC Region northern Cumbria should be in) resulted in North and West Cumbria being switched back to the BBC Look North (North East) Region with programming produced in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. People-power and a big change affecting 300,000 potential viewers in Cumbria.
People-power and the power of community could achieve a similar result for viewers of Regional Television who live in northern parts of North West England who still just have two poor choices of what Regional News programming for their area they watch: BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada- both which cover northern Lancashire and Cumbria poorly (if at all) in their output. Ideally, at least one of either ITV Granada or BBC North West Tonight would be successfully pressurised into trimming a minute off the Sports coverage to make room for at least one news-item about Cumbria (and another about North Lancashire) minimum in each nightly bulletin. They would be made to provide overlap coverage of serious news- events across northern Cumbria right up to the Scottish Border because it may be of concern to folk living in South Cumbria and Northern Lancashire, and because Regional News- programming covering North West England should cover all of North West England (of which all Cumbria is a part) in news output.
Real pressure would be put upon ITV Granada’s Regional News programmers to greatly up-rate news- programming for the north of their transmission area if a) Viewers demanded it and complained to OFCOM (which oversees ITV) and the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport about the lack of relevant news- coverage and b) Viewers started demanding a switch to ITV Border “Because our community has more affinity with the Lake District than Manchester or Liverpool…and ITV Border covers Cumbria very well”. Despite losing the central Lake District area to what was then Border Television in 1982, Granada Television (as it was in 1982) held on to towns such as Ulverston, Barrow-in-Furness, Kirkby Lonsdale, Grange-over-Sands and even Millom (in the southern half of the Copeland District- which mainly covers West Cumbria) in the Granada Television transmission area. Granada Television continued to hold onto these areas, successfully arguing to the relevant ITV bosses that people in Ulverston had scarcely visited Carlisle but many more had visited Manchester: That could be due to the fact that Manchester is a big city and that to go on holiday many Ulverstonians would have had to go through it to go on holiday (via Mancheter Airport). It might also have something to do with the fact that Ulverston is directly on the train line to Manchester Airport.
That reasoning does not add up to rigorous scrutiny: There are occasions in life when one cannot avoid going through (or to) the nearest big city, but that does not mean it is local or that viewers have a strong affinity to it! Ulverston might be right on the shores of Morecambe Bay and be one of the more southerly towns in Cumbria, but it is right on the edge of the Lake District- people in Ulverston will visit nearby towns like Barrow-in-Furness, Kendal, Millom and even venture as far north as Whitehaven for a day out. In this day and age, when most goods can be ordered over the Internet, they will not choose to go to Manchester. Lancaster, which is a small city that nonetheless has a wide variety of retail outlets is likely to be as far as they would need to travel for anything specialist and (if not) certainly Preston.
The argument about travelling to Manchester more does not even stand up to serious scrutiny for folk living in Lancaster or Morecambe, most folk from can get what they need locally and if they want to travel somewhere for a day out they will likely head north to the Lake District where the scenery is beautiful. Manchester is just on the limit of what might be considered to be Regionally Local to folk living in North Lancashire, it is an hour’s drive away with a clear run down the M6 and M61: Folk might travel there for a major shopping trip just before Christmas, they might travel a bit further to Liverpool if they have to go to the Passport Office (or if they are Liverpool Football Club fanatics), but North Lancastrians are as (if not more) likely to head north (where the scenery is nice) for a day trip than head south to a big smoky city. North Lancashire is not, by any rigorous scrutiny, best served by remaining in the ITV Granada Region as it is.
ITV Border would serve all of South Cumbria and northern Lancashire much better: These areas would receive a lot more real localised news- coverage and they would get a lot of news about northern Cumbria from the English version of ITV Border. If ITV Border reduced the southern Scotland/ Berwick-upon-Tweed content on its English (or Cumbrian) version of the main bulletins to about 20% (possible if the Scottish version gets 15 minutes of its own programming), that would still mean Cumbria gets 50% coverage whilst Northern Lancashire alone ends up with 20% coverage (with 10% overlap to South Lancashire). And actually, that would represent a massive improvement in all-round news- coverage and appropriate Regional affiliation for a large part of Lancashire and Cumbria together: There would be a recognition in ITV Regional output that Cumbria is (geographically at least) part of North West England and a big area stretching from Carlisle in the north to Fleetwood, Garstang and Clitheroe in the south would get much better all-round local news coverage (i.e. hearing about news well to the north as well as news well to the south along with much more Immediate Local coverage).
How much would it cost ITV to transfer all of South Cumbria and northern Lancashire to ITV Border (which could be re-branded ITV Border-North West to reflect it’s expanded remit)? The total cost would probably be less than £100,000 (some of which would be tweaking the Lancaster transmitter so that it receives ITV Border via the main Caldbeck transmitter just south of Carlisle). The annual cost of extra news-gathering across Northern Lancashire would be an extra reporter based at ITV Border’s Kendal base, this would be set against the reduced cost to ITV Granada of having to cover northern Lancashire and the tiny bit of South Cumbria that they do- they could just get such news off ITV Border to provide overlap coverage for the benefit of viewers in South Lancashire and Manchester.
In the longer term such a move might make ITV.plc better off: North Lancastrian viewers would be likely to watch the new ITV Border- North West news in rather greater numbers than they do ITV Granada Reports: This means greater advertising revenue and more viewers signing up to ITV Hub for £3.99 a month. The extra £100,000 investment over the next few years (and ongoing perhaps £10,000 a year) could be returned with higher revenues within just four years- and more viewers in northern North West England would be happy.
However, none of this is likely to happen if no pressure is placed upon ITV. Plc to make some big changes, without which even the ITV Border Region could be under threat: The aim of this Website is to inform people in the northern North West of England how they are being short- changed in Regional Television coverage- and who they can turn to to address it. From many people being informed and emboldened to write in and complain will come the People-power needed to bring sufficient pressure on the ITV bosses (and on the BBC) to greatly improve Regional Television coverage for northern North West England.
In the first instance, if you live in Lancashire and South Cumbria and you receive ITV Granada Reports you can send them a direct email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you live in South Cumbria and Northern Lancashire and think your area would be served much better by being transferred to the English version of ITV Border, I am sure the Programmers at ITV Border would love to hear from you: Email them at email@example.com