Another day, another week with no Cumbrian news whatsoever on BBC North West Tonight.

Roger Johnson was on top form tonight on BBC North West Tonight: There he was in the middle of Preston discussing the new Coronavirus restrictions affecting Lancashire and Merseyside. All of Lancashire, except for Blackpool, are under special enhanced restrictions in addition to the Rule of Six – no more than six people allowed to meet together outdoors or in one’s home. Lancashire has had quite a lot of coverage over the last week, if only because of the enhanced restrictions across the county following a sharp increase in cases.

However, in Cumbria cases have also been rising. Barrow in Furness has seen a spike in cases of Coronavirus, though the vast majority of these are asymptomatic. Coronavirus aside, there was also a nasty road accident on the A684 near Sedbergh today leading to a motorcyclist being transported to Preston hospital with serious spinal injuries. None of this made BBC North West Tonight despite both Barrow in Furness and Sedbergh actually being in the BBC North West transmission area.

BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria), which mainly serves the North East, actually covered the situation in Barrow in Furness for the benefit of northern Cumbrian viewers of Look North: Why can’t BBC North West, which as it’s name suggests should cover all of North West England, cover significant events in northern Cumbria for the benefit of their South Cumbrian viewers (for whom Manchester and Liverpool is not local)? They haven’t covered Cumbria for over a week, neither have ITV Granada.

This is completely unacceptable for the thousands of folk who live in places like Cartmel, Grange over Sands, Kirkby Lonsdale, Millom and Ulverston: They get told by the main news- anchor at the end of the Six o’clock News “Now for the News Where You Are”. I’m sorry, but the news of Manchester, Liverpool and Cheshire is not “The News Where You Are” for folk living in Kirkby Lonsdale, Kendal, Grange over Sands and Duddon Bridge! Just as likewise the news about Tyneside, Wearside and Teesside is not “The News Where You Are” for folk living in Keswick, Workington, Whitehaven and Egremont- in West Cumbria!

That said, the BBC and ITV don’t take much notice of folk writing in to them to complain about the virtual absence of news about Cumbria on BBC North West Tonight: Believe me, I’ve tried and all that happens is that you get ignored! So if you live in South Cumbria or North Lancashire and would really like a proper North West Regional news- service that does not routinely cut off the top half of the Region you would do better writing to The Right Hon. Sir Oliver Dowden, MP- the Secretary of State for Digital Culture Media and Sport at this address:

The Right Hon. Sir Oliver Dowden, MP

Secretary of State for the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport

Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport,  

100 Parliament Street,


The BBC have demonstrated that they do little unless some-one high up in the Government descends upon them from a great height, as recently illustrated with the furore over over-75’s being required to pay the £157.50 annual Tax on Televisions: Only if enough Cumbrians complain (bypassing the BBC’s internal processes and going straight to the Government) is there likely to be real movement.

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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