BBC North West Tonight. Roger Johnson is excelling himself.

The last few days have seen an improvement in the amount of Regional News- coverage given to the northern half of North West England by BBC North West Tonight. Even the Keswick outlook forecast has come back into Owain Evans weather- forecast!

This evening, Roger Johnson had a piece on schools re-opening in Blackpool and a noteworthy piece about two people crossing Cumbria using small inflatable dingies called packrafts. All of the places they traversed were covered, right up to the Solway Firth- which is near the northern edge of the English North West: One could assert that the entire North West of England was covered effectively- as indeed at the other end of North West England there was also a news- feature of the Arley Hall botanical gardens near Northwich in Cheshire (and North West England does not extend further south than Cheshire).

Yesterday, the more Cumbria-sympathetic Steven Saul included a piece on a young man called Alex Staniforth climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike in the Lake District and Snowdonia in North Wales- and running all the distance between these mountains (the highest in Scotland, England and Wales respectively). He completed this great athletic feat in nine days, 12 hours and 51 minutes and raised money for a Mental Health charity in the process. Steven Saul included this little piece on Alex Staniforth in Cumbria (including at the Scottish Border) in a short Bank-Holiday bulletin of just six minutes’ duration.

Recent days have also seen coverage of tourists littering in the Lake District, the Lake District’s three famous spaniels and there was even a link on the BBC North West Twitter feed of the Missing Lancashire Cat that ended up at Falcon Vets in Carlisle (though this item did not actually make the news). What is remarkable is that much of this coverage happened over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

However, Cumbrian and North Lancastrian viewers of BBC North West Tonight have had such “false dawns” before: Let’s see if it is sustained and that more Cumbrian and North Lancastrian news finds its way into the BBC Regional News bulletins for North West England on a regular basis.

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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