This is an article I originally penned on 10th April 2018. It serves as a timely reminder today that both BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada could cover Cumbria and North Lancashire better with some efficient time-management!
Both the BBC and ITV Granada in the North West of England can still improve news coverage for all parts of the region if they structure the news-output in the right way, so as to maximise the number of items covered then allocating a portion of the news-items for different parts of the North West of England and the Isle of Man.
This will involve editing some news-items so they are of a specific length but I would suggest a breakdown of the main half-hour regional news programs as follows:
– Main headline news item of five minutes.
-One news item of three minutes.
-One news item of two minutes.
-Nine news items of one minute.
-Five minutes for Sports coverage.
-Two minutes for the weather forecast.
All this fits within 26 minutes and given the broadcast slot is typically over 27 minutes this will give a little leeway to extend coverage for a major sporting event or if one or two of the nine short news-items need a bit more attention.
There are twelve news items, which should be stipulated as follows:
-South Cumbria and northern Lancashire: At least two news items.
-Isle of Man: At least two news items.
-South Cheshire/ Peak District: At least one news-item.
The numbers of news-items are the minimum stipulated for each area.
In addition, the headline news-item lasting five minutes would be the most serious or significant happening in an area that stretches from Stafford and northern Shropshire right the way up to the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle and extending a little way eastwards into the West and North Yorkshire Pennines. This area from which the most serious news occurs would also include the Isle of Man and the Irish Sea.
This method of apportioning news coverage would increase effective coverage at the margins of the transmission area, it would also mean that folk would get to hear about serious events beyond the transmission boundary in places that might still be local to viewers at the periphery of the transmission area.
For shorter bulletins at lunchtime, late at night and at weekends the area from which the headline news item comes should also extend from Stafford up to the Scottish Border and eastwards into westernmost Yorkshire. The major news-item would be shortened to two minutes; a second news item would be one minute with two more news items being just 30 seconds each. The sport and weather would be in the last minute of a five-minute bulletin. With these shorter bulletins a stipulation that at least one of the four news-reports covers Lancashire, south Cumbria and the Isle of Man must be included. If the short bulletins last ten minutes and three of these are given over to the Sports and weather, then there should be the serious item (from the larger area as above) which would last two minutes and five news-items of a minute’s duration each. The stipulation of areas from where the news comes from should then be:
– The Isle of Man – at least one item of coverage.
-Cumbria and northern Lancashire (the serious news item could be about northern Cumbria), – at least one news item.
– Cheshire and High Peak, – at least one news item.
In this way, the main centres of population are still covered well but the more rural communities of Cumbria and northern Lancashire are also better covered. Regional news in the North West would then look more like the news about the North West of England and the Isle of Man rather than the Manchester and Merseyside news!
The best option of all, though, would be for the transmission areas in North West England and on the Isle of Man to be split- so that Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man get their own much more localised news-coverage. In this ideal situation the Isle of Man would have special opt-out news-programming from a new BBC and/ or ITV North West Television Region.
However, if this is not going to happen, then Regional Television in the North West should be structured to the above templates for the main evening news and shorter bulletins. The costs of doing this should be minimal.