11th October 2020
It has been weeks since ITV Granada Reports- which advertises as “Covering the North West” -actually covered anything from Cumbria. Programmers for ITV’s Regional News in North West England seem to forget that 100,000 viewers in the north of their transmission area actually live in Cumbria and (moreover) these are viewers that cannot get ITV Border, whose only alternative is BBC North West Tonight (which cover Cumbria little better).
Folk who live in northern Lancashire- that is north of a line from Blackpool to Burnley- also get scant coverage on ITV Granada Reports. The population of this area is over 600,000 people and this represents a significant proportion of North West England- both in terms of population and geographical area. For most who live in this area, Manchester and Liverpool are an hour’s drive away or further; indeed from Lancaster it is quicker to get to Carlisle than to central Manchester on the train. From Fleetwood, Kendal is quicker to get to than Manchester by car (and Kendal can be reached within an hour- and so is local to Fleetwood, Manchester is not). Also from Blackpool getting to both Manchester and Tebay (Cumbria) both involve a drive of about one hour. Northern Lancashire has strong links with Cumbria, particularly the Lake District, and folk who live in Lancaster and the northern Lancashire towns will naturally be drawn to the Lakes in nice weather.
Now further north, ITV Border, which is broadcast to most of Cumbria and southern Scotland actually is in the form of two transmission areas- a southern Scotland version which is transmitted to the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway- and a Cumbrian version of the programme transmitted to viewers who live in Cumbria. If South Cumbria and northern Lancashire (including the Fylde Coast and upper Ribble Valley) were shifted into the ITV Border area (so that they received the Cumbrian version of ITV Border) the entire area would get a lot more localised and relevant news- coverage. An area with a total population of some 700,000 people would be much better served by an ITV transmission area with a total population of 1 million (that is, the population of Cumbria and northern Lancashire) compared to being in the ITV Granada area with a population of seven million. Viewers in the more northerly parts of North West England would finally have a Regional News service covering the northern half of North West England, whilst those North Lancastrians and South Cumbrians with affinities towards Manchester (and who object to the small amount of southern Scottish coverage provided for the benefit of northern Cumbrian viewers!) could still switch over to BBC North West Tonight.
People who live in Cumbria and northern Lancashire would- on balance- welcome a Regional News service that recognises and affirms their “Northern-ness” as well as being geographically consistent with the fact that these areas are part of North West England. If ITV Border’s Programmers object to having northern Lancashire included in their remit -on the grounds it might dilute Cumbrian coverage for Cumbrian viewers- it should be pointed out to them that this Regional News service was broadcast to the Isle of Man and northernmost Northumberland in the past and that overlap coverage of southern Scotland does not need to be more than one in ten items to keep viewers in Carlisle and northern Cumbria happy. It can also be pointed out to the Programmers at ITV Border (who are, sadly, largely based at Gateshead in the North East these days) that viewers in central and South Cumbria have connections with the North West, with coverage of northern Lancashire providing them with better all-round coverage; in other words for folk living in Penrith or Keswick that what happens in Lancaster or Garstang might be a bit more relevant to them than what happens in Duns or Selkirk (even if they still do have some interest in significant happenings in southern Scotland).
Programmers at ITV Border do need to ensure that they can gain a somewhat higher population of their transmission areas (both English and Scottish versions) without diluting coverage of any areas. The Programmers might need to be aware of the importance of getting the population of their transmission area above a certain critical mass to keep it safe from any future threats to the very existence of this excellent Regional News service (by expanding it’s transmission area another forty miles southwards and providing 700,000 people with a much much better Regional News service than they currently have). And there is a threat to ITV Border going forwards because Ministers in the Conservative Government are mulling proposals to relive ITV of certain Public Service Broadcast requirements (i.e. the provision of Regional news) because advertising revenues have fallen (note the consideration amongst Ministers regarding ITV’s status as a Public Service broadcaster in this article: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/10/10/privatisation-battle-looming-channel-4/ ). If ITV Border is ever mothballed by ITV- to save money- it means all of Cumbria and northern Lancashire together- along with southern Scotland- will be condemned to poor or non-existent local news coverage for a very long time, if not forever!
So, a big change needs to happen- and fast! Otherwise locations north of Preston and west of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (from where northern Cumbria will likely get ITV Regional News if ITV Border is abolished) will become part of a vast Region of northern England that is in real danger of being condemned to being overlooked. This Website will, therefore campaign to have an entire area north of Preston shifted to the ITV Border area so as to bring much-improved local news-coverage for potentially 700,000 folk (plus a large area of central northern Cumbria that has links with the North West)- and additionally safeguard the future of a very important and much-loved Regional News Service as is currently seen by folk living in central and northern Cumbria and in southern Scotland.
If you live in South Cumbria or northern Lancashire and think ITV Border would bring you a much more localised news- service (and more coverage of Cumbria) than you receive from either ITV Granada (or BBC North West), then do let ITV Border know at: firstname.lastname@example.org