BBC North West Tonight covered the tragic situation where a pilot died after losing control of his microlight plane crashed in the North Lakes, near Troutbeck and midway between Penrith and Keswick (more can be read on this tragic accident here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-54501995). The fact remains that BBC North West covered this news-item both in the lunchtime bulletin of only ten minutes’ long (when the friendly and outgoing Annabel Tiffin presented North West Today), and also on the main evening bulletin. The charismatic and outgoing Roger Johnson presented BBC North West tonight.
This is good news because the northern Troutbeck, which is between Penrith and Keswick just off the A66 (and which is a different place to the Troutbeck near Windermere, in South Cumbria)- is some ten miles north of BBC North West’s northern transmission boundary. Yet BBC North West Programmers saw fit to cover it because the northern Lake District and northern Cumbria is still part of North West England. Programmers for BBC North West seem finally to be awakening to the fact that their viewers in the north of their transmission area live not far from the North Lakes and may visit the area on day-trips in fine weather, that viewers who live in South Cumbria might be interested in significant happenings across their own county. It is all the more impressive given that today the half of the North West south of Cumbria (in which most of the population of the Region lives) has been placed under new Coronavirus restrictions with the Liverpool area being put under lockdown conditions akin to those in place across Britain during April.
Now, BBC North West Tonight is a long way from being an ideal Regional News service for viewers in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire, with two or three news-items covering Cumbria/ northern Lancashire in each bulletin. But it is a start and if (a big “if”) Cumbria- including northern Cumbria north of the transmission boundary- starts to feature in the lunchtime and main bulletins every night then BBC’s flagship Regional News Programme for North West England will come to be seen to cover all of the North West properly.
Even as things stand I would now say this: If you live anywhere north of Preston ITV Granada Reports will let you down big time: ITV’s flagship Regional News service for North West England has not mentioned Cumbria for weeks and it covers Lancashire fairly intermittently, so watch BBC North West Tonight.
You do now stand a chance of getting some local coverage on BBC North West Tonight and, if something major happens up to twenty-five miles north of you (wherever you live in South Cumbria) you stand a good chance of hearing about it. Viewers in Lancashire will almost always receive two or more items of news- coverage about their county on the main evening bulletins BBC North West Tonight. However, it is not guaranteed, and if you live in South Cumbria and receive BBC North West Tonight you can go for a week or more without hearing anything about Cumbria on BBC North West Tonight. There is still a long way to go before viewers of Regional Television who live in South Cumbria or northern Lancashire have a North West Regional News service that provides really effective local and regional coverage as pertaining to those areas.
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.
View more posts