From 3rd May 2018: The Maps displayed by BBC NorthWest Tonight and ITV Granada Reports show a Statement of Intent of the areas they cover!

This is an article I posted on a previous site on 3rd May 2018

Dear Readers,

Just yesterday BBC North West Tonight showed a map to illustrate where in the North West local council elections were taking place (see here: The map only extended up to include South Lakeland, one of the few places in the North West with a Liberal Democrat-run Council: The map did not go further north and it certainly did not include the rural part of Carlisle City Council’s area where local elections will also be taking place today.Don’t South Cumbrian viewers of North West Regional Television have a right to find out about significant political events happening right across their county, which could have an impact later on how their county in run, on local and regional television?

At the end of the nightly regional programming is the regional weather forecast which (to be fair) extends a bit further north in BBC North West Tonight- you can see that it covers the Cumbrian fells and just about extends up to St. Bees Head (the most westerly point in the English North West and where viewers get BBC Regional News that’s 85% about the North East of England).  However BBC North West Tonight’s weather-map does not extend northwards to incorporate Workington, Whitehaven, the Eden Valley, the northern Lakes and the Carlisle area- all of which are politically and geographically in North West England, and which are areas that folk who live in Lancashire and South Cumbria travel to on day-trips (particularly to the Lakes), shopping expeditions and the like: People living in the south of Cumbria and in Lancashire need to know what the weather will be like should they decide to travel north for a day.

There was a recent report on the BBC North West website, three of the top ten most polluted towns and cities are here in the North West: Included was Manchester, Salford and Liverpool- they forgot to mention Carlisle that was also on the list! : “Ah, well- we don’t include Carlisle” they might have said!

The reason why BBC North West does not display most of Cumbria in its regional maps – or report on towns and on Carlisle City in mid or northern Cumbria- is because northern and West Cumbria are beyond their northern transmission boundary. It effectively means that they state “We do not cover northern Cumbria because people there don’t watch our news- programming and folk who watch our news programming will have to accept that we do not cover all of North West England- despite our name”.

What’s worse is that viewers in one part of Cumbria who have to contend with both BBC North West and ITV Granada and their political maps don’t have their Constituency shown at all! The good people of Millom, Haverigg, Duddon Bridge and Silecroft all live in the Copeland Parliamentary Constituency and in the Copeland Borough Council area- neither the Constituency nor the district council in question appear on either BBC NorthWest’s not ITV Granada’s regional political maps. How can political programming just so cruelly dismiss the direct political concerns of over 10,000 people who live in North West England?

It is a shame that BBC North West have to leave this impression since they have (just occasionally) covered some serious news items concerning central, northern and West Cumbria in recent weeks- for instance the furore over the proposed zip-wire on Thirlmere, house-fire deaths near Appleby, Prince Charles’ visit to the northern Lakes and a man who drowned after getting into difficulties in Wastwater. They could advertise this fact by showing northern Cumbria in their regional maps- whether it is weather forecasts, politics, or indeed the regional map that they display at the start of the North West Regional News: It would show that they cover the entire English North West which stretches from Cheshire right up to the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle; this would demonstrate to Cumbrian viewers of BBC North West programming that they cover Cumbria and care about issues that affect them.

ITV Granada Reports do not cover all of the North West, despite advertising as doing so.  They hardly cover Cumbria at all, though to be fair on them their Regional Maps display all of the South Lakes- despite much of South Lakeland getting ITV Border Television. ITV Granada’s remit now also includes the Isle of Man which, separate from North West England and a semi-independent nation-state in its own right gets very little coverage and is scarcely covered in ITV Granada’s maps! With regards to Granada, principal place-names on its weather-maps often exclude Cumbria and the Isle of Man- small wonder folk living in these areas and who can only get ITV Granada, not ITV Border feel disenchanted with their Regional Television programming! If ITV Granada wish all their viewers to be happy with their programming, they need to be seen to represent their more northerly viewers properly- otherwise they might lose advertising revenue as viewers in South Cumbria and North Lancashire try fiddling with their TV-reception to get ITV Border!

As a matter of fact, can I point out that if you live in Lancaster or Morecambe you could get ITV Border, and watch their flagship news- programme “Lookaround” as far back as 2002.  It was not brilliant, the picture was black- and- white but you could hear the news broadcast very clearly.  Today, with digital programming and also the option of postcode-mapping and you live in South Cumbria or North Lancashire you could switch to ITV Border and watch Cumbrian news on “Lookaround” that will probably be more relevant to you than 80% Manchester, Liverpool and Cheshire. If you live on the Isle of Man or live in parts of Lancashire that cannot in any way shape or form get ITV Border you could just switch off- or watch BBC North West Tonight, which has started covering more northerly parts of North West England rather better than ITV Granada: If enough people did this ITV Granada would get a sharp shock and a wake-up call to represent the interests of their more northerly viewers and cover ALL of the North West properly (and also the Isle of Man)- as indeed they state on their website!

In conclusion, maps tell you a lot: If a business has a large map of Britain in its office or in the brochures it sends out to customers- and has part of the map around where it is based shaded pink- that is an indication of where it is willing to do business: Anyone ringing in to this business from a location outside the area indicated on its map can expect to be given short-shrift and told to find a similar business closer to them; they cannot expect that business to serve their interests.  With news-programming maps demonstrate more than where you can get the news, but also the areas they are willing to cover.  It’s time both BBC North West and ITV Granada enlarged their maps northwards because Cumbrian viewers of North West Regional programming don’t think these programs serve their interests!

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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