The other day I proposed that if viewers of Regional Television in northern Lancashire and South Cumbria who receive ITV Granada Regional Programming are unhappy about the scant amount of coverage of news- events north of the M62 Corridor on ITV Granada Reports that they could demand their area is transferred to ITV Border where they would get much more local coverage. There would be a move from a Television Region with a population in the transmission area of seven million to a neighbouring Television Region with a total population of just 1.5 million (with all South Cumbria and northern Lancashire included) who would be receiving the English version of  ITV Border (in reality it would be Cumbria and northern Lancashire). Folk in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire have a closer affinity to the Lake District (which ITV Border already covers extremely well), than to Manchester and Liverpool (over an hour’s drive down the M6, M61 (or M58)), big cities that folk in the northern North West of England would not necessarily travel to by choice.

Viewers of the choices of North West Regional Television from both the BBC and ITV who live in Lancashire and South Cumbria do not get coverage of the entirety of North West England: Some 80% of coverage is Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington, Cheshire and a bit of north-west Derbyshire, the remaining 20% is Lancashire, the Isle of Man and South Cumbria but there is no news-coverage of northern Cumbria: This is neither conducive to effective all-round local news-coverage or Regional identity for those living in more northerly parts of North West England and on the Isle of Man because what is (in the main) covered are the major conurbations along the banks of the River Mersey rather than the geographical North West of England. So, if the BBC won’t make funds available for a new BBC North West Region covering Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man- or at least go as far as providing an opt-out for the north of the transmission area, perhaps ITV can take up the initiative with its own bespoke Television Region (one that already exists in the form of ITV Border): ITV Border already provides an effectively bespoke Cumbrian news- service and some separate programming for southern Scotland, so ITV Border could be made to embrace other northerly parts of North West England (i.e. South Cumbria and northern Lancashire) that are short- changed on BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports.

In the northern half of the North East of England, the large rural county of Northumberland is also short- changed by both BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria transmission area) and also by ITV Tyne Tees: Towns like Berwick-upon-Tweed, Wooler and Cornhill-on-Tweed are over an hour’s drive from Newcastle-upon-Tyne (though it is just possible to get to Newcastle on the train from Berwick within an hour), yet there is a dearth of coverage of areas north of the River Tyne. Moreover, neither ITV Tyne Tees nor BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria) will cover anything on the Scottish side of the Scottish Border despite strong cultural and historical links between North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. Yet there is a solution to Northumberland’s lack of coverage- it’s called ITV Border.

Now Berwick-upon-Tweed used to receive the Scottish version of ITV Border- transmitted from the Selkirk transmitter in the Scottish Borders. However, in 2006, North Northumberland was transferred from ITV Border (Scottish version) to ITV Tyne Tees: Quite a number of local folk thought this might be a good thing at the time, the Scottish version of ITV Border covers a lot of the politics around the Scottish Parliament, as well as having news mainly about southern Scotland (much the Scottish Borders are local to North Northumberland, but Dumfries and Galloway certainly is not).

It would be interesting to see how many people who live in towns like Berwick-upon-Tweed and Wooler now think losing ITV Border in favour of ITV Tyne Tees marks an improvement in local news- coverage. Effectively North Northumberland was transferred from a transmission area with a population of around 500,000 (the number of viewers in ITV Border Scotland’s transmission area prior to the switch) to a transmission area with a population of three million (ITV Tyne Tees now covers all of North East England and the northern half of North Yorkshire, which has this population): Other things being equal this would reduce the amount of coverage of North Northumberland that North Northumberland’s viewers can receive by five sixths: It also means that folk in northern Northumberland get no coverage of news on the Scottish side of the Scottish Border- news that local folk might still consider as local.

The solution, as for northern parts of North West England, is for there to be a southwards extension of the ITV Border transmission area- this time with the transmission area receiving ITV Border (Scotland) being extended south across rural north and north-west Northumberland. ITV Border’s original raíson d’être was to cover northernmost parts of England together with southern Scotland because close communities (with strong links between them) straddle both sides of the Scottish Border (hence the name for the TV Region, ITV Border). There was, for example, a recognition of the strong links between northern Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.  

Now BBC Look North and ITV News Tyne-Tees are unlikely to countenance providing overlap coverage to southern Scotland for political reasons: Their viewers in Tyneside and Teesside voted heavily for Britain to leave the European Union and these viewers of North East Regional programming who live south of Northumberland note that Scottish National Party MPs have been trying to stop Britain leaving the European Union whilst agitating for the break- up of the United Kingdom. Thus viewers of BBC Look North and ITV News Tyne Tees who live in the towns and cities south-east of Northumberland are less predisposed towards the Scots than they have ever been; so Regional Television Programmers in the North East are not keen to cause controversy by including any Scottish Borders’ news in Regional output!

However, the political and community outlook for folk living in rural northern  Northumberland is a world away from what it is in (say) the City of Durham or Sunderland. People in Berwick-upon-Tweed have strong links across the Border, they have friends and family, places they like to go and visit which are all in southern Scotland. Moreover, rural North and West Northumberland need (and deserve) news output that is much more localised and not just about Tyneside and Teesside. The solution to this conundrum is for rural northern Northumberland to be included in the ITV Border transmission area: With Post-code Mapping, it should also be eminently possible to do.

The new ITV Border North (reflecting its extended remit) transmission area would cover all of Cumbria, the northern half of Lancashire, the Isle of Man, Dumfries and Galloway, southern Ayrshire, the Scottish Borders and rural North and West Northumberland. The main bulletins would ideally be 10 minutes across the whole transmission area with overlap coverage north to the Forth-Clyde Valley, east to Newcastle-upon-Tyne/ Gateshead and south to encompass South Lancashire and Manchester (the overlap coverage would encompass a third of this all ITV Border North programming, enough so that folk at the fringes of the transmission area get all- round news- coverage). This whole ITV Border North Regional coverage (with overlap) would include the first two main news-items then Sport/ Weather during the last five minutes of the Programme.

The new ITV Border Region would be a totally separate franchise divorced 100% from ITV Tyne Tees with all news-production returned to Carlisle. Local news is more likely to be genuinely reflective of the concerns of this huge rural area if the editors and programmers actually live in the area, not in the urban North East of England!

In addition, there would be the opt-outs from the whole- Region programming that would take up 20 minutes of the main bulletins (and eight out of ten news- items in main bulletins), and the entirety of the lunchtime bulletins. There should be four opt-outs in an expanded ITV Border franchise so that all areas get excellent bespoke localised news- coverage:

  • ITV Border (Scotland) which focuses on southern Scotland and the Scottish Borders, with 10% overlap south into Cumbria and Northumberland and 10% overlap north across the Forth-Clyde valley of Central Scotland. The remaining 80% of coverage would be exclusively from the ITV Border (Scotland) area, with 50% from south-west Scotland and 30% from the Scottish Borders.
  • ITV Border (Northumberland) would be transmitted from the Berwick-upon-Tweed and Chatton transmitters to north and north-west Northumberland, with focus upon Northumberland- with 20% overlap north to the Scottish Borders and East Lothian/ Edinburgh (Edinburgh is within an hour of Berwick-upon-Tweed on the train) and with 20% overlap south to Tyneside, Wearside and south-east Northumberland. Rural North and West Northumberland would get 60% coverage. Postcode mapping would be used in this digital age to make sure the Tynedale area of West Northumberland picks up the ITV Border North (Northumberland) opt-out- and this all means that the county will be properly covered.
  • ITV Border (North West) would be transmitted from the Caldbeck transmitter, just south of Carlisle and also transmitted from Lancaster. The ITV Border (North West) transmission area would take in all of Cumbria and northern Lancashire south to a line running from Blackpool to Colne: The new programming would be 90% concentrated on this opt-out transmission area (Cumbria alone would get 60% coverage, northern Lancashire 30%). There would be just 10% overlap coverage, half of which would be northwards across southern Scotland right up to Edinburgh/Glasgow and north-east to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and half would be overlap southwards to South Lancashire and Manchester to the south of the transmission area.
  • ITV Border (Isle of Man) would be transmitted from Douglas to the Isle of Man. The Crown Dependency would have its own bespoke news- programming like the Channel Islands.

Weekend bulletins and breakfast bulletins, along with political and current affairs programming would be from the whole of the revamped ITV Border North Region, with 10% from the overlap areas north to Glasgow/ Edinburgh, east to Newcastle/ Gateshead and south to South Lancashire/ Manchester. The exception would be southern Scotland getting its own political programming.

The mix of eight out of ten opt-out news and two out of ten pan Regional (of which just one third would be overlap coverage) in the main bulletins, 100% opt-outs in lunch-time and late-night bulletins and whole ITV Border North Region news at weekends would lead to a huge improvement in local and Regional news-coverage. Cumbrian viewers, wherever in the county they would be, would see at least 50% coverage of Cumbria. Other Border/ Northern viewers would get news coverage of their areas as follows:

  • Northern Lancashire viewers would see 35% coverage of Lancashire and 50% coverage of Cumbria.
  • Northumberland viewers would, on aggregate, get 45% coverage of their area in addition to 20% coverage of southern Scotland (most of which they would get concerning the Scottish Borders and East Lothian in the opt-out programming).
  •  The Isle of Man’s viewers of ITV Border (Isle of Man) would get (as befitting what is, in effect, a separate country) 70% news coverage- about a third of coverage would be right across the new ITV Border North area.
  • Viewers of ITV Border (Scotland) would see at least 60% news to be about southern Scotland, a further 10% of news being about the Forth Clyde Valley, 10% news about Northumberland and 10% being news about Cumbria. That means that all areas would get good all-round local news- coverage.          

The net effect of such a revamped, expanded ITV Border area (ITV Border could rebrand as ITV Border North: Covering southern Scotland, Northumberland and the North West to reflect its expanded remit) would be the availability of a massively- improved Regional News service for large areas of northern Britain previously covered poorly by Regional Television in their areas.

As to the overall cost of such changes, the additional two opt-outs would cost £5 million annually altogether, but this would be offset by the addition of larger numbers of viewers watching ITV Border who are currently put- off by the offering for Regional Television in their area; that in turn will lead to greater advertising revenue. In addition, product-placement could be explored as a means for attracting more revenue for ITV to pay for a beefed-up ITV Border Region- a big corporate outfit like Gretna Gateway Outlet Village could be persuaded to advertise their presence across the Region in this way. Savings would be made to ITV through ITV Granada relinquishing responsibility of the Isle of Man, news gathering from South Cumbria and northern Lancashire. ITV Tyne Tees would also see some savings through not having to cover much of Northumberland. There would be one-off costs of tweaking transmitters in Northumberland, Lancaster and on the Isle of Man to receive ITV Border output, but the overall gains of making sure (potentially) one million viewers get a much more tailored news-output  would reap dividends within a few years.

The remaining problems are that ITV refuse to consider such measures, or that Regional programmers at ITV Granada in the North West and ITV Tyne Tees in the North East refuse to give up the northern parts of their transmission areas to ITV Border. ITV Border could refuse to take on the responsibility for the proposed new areas for fear of “diluting” coverage for existing viewers (the additional opt-outs more than takes care of this problem, southern Scotland, for instance would get excellent coverage). In that case, Government pressure could be sought via OFCOM (who oversee Independent Television provision in the UK) to DEMAND that ITV make the required changes by cutting the franchise-areas for ITV Granada and ITV Tyne Tees and transferring these to ITV Border.                                     

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.


  1. Yes to a ITV / bbc (Isle of Man) transmitted from Douglas to the Isle of Man. The Crown Dependency would have its own bespoke news- programming like the Channel Islands also live covering big events like Big Sport events like manx Sports League also tynwald day and Manx local Council and General election also islands games and Commonwealth games

    With be Isle of Man only mmm would get (as befitting what is, in effect, a separate country) 100% news coverage be Isle of Man

  2. I totally agree. Unfortunately, neither the BBC nor ITV are willing to even countenance opt-outs on BBC North West Tonight or ITV Granada Reports let alone provide a separate TV Region just covering the Isle of Man. They would argue that it is too expensive to provide a bespoke news service for just 85,000 people, for that is how they would think.

    Until Manx viewers are prepared to boycott both BBC North West Tonight, and particularly ITV Granada Reports in significant numbers (and to write in to complain and to say why they are not watching these programmes) there is unlikely to be much change.

    I have provided a list of contacts to write to on the Website so if you use these- and forward them to people that you know locally so they can complain about the regional TV the relevant authorities might start receiving emails and letters (website address here: For the Isle of Man the list of MP contacts wont be much help, but the Communities and Utilities Regulatory Authority covers broadcast television services and you can contact them at:

    Communications and Utilities Regulatory Authority
    Ground Floor
    Murray House
    Mount Havelock
    IM1 2SF

    Or you can email them at: However a written letter sent in the post- marked URGENT- will carry more weight than an email.

    1. think that so wrong beuces itv and bbc do for jsersey and guersey but not isle of man surely most be something
      under the TV licence to BBC has to cover countries as the isle of man a country not a region of uk the bbc has do something

      but do known all 24 mhk so yes might use it get sort mm yes mhk are isle of man mps also no one on isle of man have any power on the bbc ok maybe MHk but be try for years got no where with bbc every time bbc try talk to bbc same talk bbc do lot talk say go do it but not do anything then agin last cup gov some mhk not had any balls mybe with man elections on it way this yaer mybe bit talk on the bbc what there do for the isle of man

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