14th October 2020
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.