If their Twitter Tweets are anything to go by ITV Granada Reports Does Not Cover Cumbria- at all!

14th October 2020

Dear Readers

Looking through the last 200 tweets on ITV Granada reports’ Twitter feed is illuminating: Not a single mention of Cumbria, just one concerning Lancaster and just four concerning Blackpool. Yet one Twitter post about Coronavirus concerned the Mayor of Sheffield, another discussed Wales (tourists from Coronavirus hot-spots in England not welcome there) and another tweet made reference to Harrogate and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This is perhaps rather surprising since Newcastle, Harrogate and indeed Sheffield are well outside ITV Granada’s transmission area and these places are not, by any definition, in the North West of England.

North Wales is certainly close to North West England and folk from Merseyside and Cheshire would travel to places like Rhyl and Llandudno on the North Wales’ Coast on a day out. However, the same is true of Cumbria and the Lake District for anyone living north of a line from Southport to Bolton. And, for the consideration of the Presenters of ITV Granada Reports, ITV Granada Reports is advertised as “Covering North West England and the Isle of Man”. That means that news-coverage should come from Cumbria, which is part of North West England (whether the Programmers like it or not) and from the Isle of Man (a Crown Dependency), as advertised before they report on places that are, by any definition, not at all in North West England. Yet there were only four out of 200 news- tweets concerning the Isle of Man, when the geographical isolation of the Isle of Man and it’s status as a small semi-nation in its own right dictates there should be at least 10-15% coverage so that Manx viewers feel that their island is effectively covered.

For northern Lancashire- all areas north of the River Ribble- to only get five out of 200 news- items when the entire area (and the part of South Cumbria that receives ITV Granada Reports) has one tenth of the population of the ITV Granada transmission area, when the entire geographical area of North West England north of Preston is almost two-thirds of the entire geographical area of the North West- this is quite unacceptable. This is doubly so when ITV Granada prioritise news-items from Yorkshire (well east of the Pennines) and news concerning Wales over the northern half of their own transmission area like this.

The North West of England stretches from Cheshire right up to the Scottish border, north of Carlisle. However, it is almost as if ITV Granada Reports have completely stopped covering Cumbria altogether and now cover northern Lancashire very rarely. The poor folk on the Isle of Man are almost completely ignored (I bet they wish now that they had stuck with ITV Border!).

The Programmers at ITV Granada showed the extent of their consideration for the more “North Westerly parts of the North West” when they deemed it appropriate to transmit ITV Calendar (Yorkshire) across their entire transmission network because a computer glitch meant they could not air their programme. Of course, if you are a news editor living in Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Huddersfield (just over the Pennines) are not that far away. Certainly for the benefit of those viewers of ITV Granada in and east of Manchester there is an argument for really major happenings in western West Yorkshire to be aired for their benefit, but for similar reasons viewers in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire might want to be informed of major happenings in northern Cumbria (which is still part of North West England even though viewers there watch ITV Border). But North West England is not just Manchester and viewers in quite major centres of population such as Preston, Blackburn, Lancaster and Blackpool will have been aghast to be getting 100% coverage of locations and events of very little or no relevance to them: Indeed this outrage was expressed in the Blackpool Gazette (https://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/arts-and-culture/film-and-tv/these-arent-granada-folk-itv-viewers-baffled-granada-reports-replaced-itv-news-calendar-yorkshire-2986256)!

So, if you are one of the 800,000 (potential) viewers of ITV Granada Reports who live north of Preston or on the Isle of Man then I would advise BBC North West Tonight, which does cover northern Lancashire better and which does at least cover news about Cumbria (though not necessarily every day, and sometimes you can go a week without coverage of Cumbria). ITV is a Private-Sector broadcaster, so if they lose even up to 400,000 viewers from their Granada transmission area at Prime Time they might sit up and decide to do something about it, particularly if viewers also complain about the absence of coverage of the northern North West of England. Email ITV Granada Reports at: granada.reports@itv.com.

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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