From 10th April 2018: A method for BBC North West and ITV Granada to improve coverage.

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!

South Cumbria should be allocated at least one news- item out of twelve on BBC North West Tonight so that local viewers don’t feel overlooked. This picture is of the Howgill Fells viewed from east of Sedbergh in South Cumbria in August 2020

Dear Readers

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.

Ian Pennell

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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