10th November 2020
BBC North West Tonight is once more having one of it’s “Non-Cumbrian weeks” and ITV Granada has not covered Cumbria for a fortnight. The Isle of Man has also had no coverage and it has all been about Manchester and Liverpool, Cheshire and some Lancastrian coverage- but nothing Cumbrian!
It almost seems like broadcasters deliberately go out of their way to avoid covering Cumbria, there was a little clip from one of a range of northern local BBC Radio Stations coming together showing people in different areas of northern England doing things for the environment- called Planet North (see here for details https://twitter.com/hashtag/BBCPlanetNorth?src=hashtag_click): One guess which one BBC North West Tonight decided to feature – Yes it was the BBC Manchester feature. Now BBC North West could have showed how Regionally- inclusive the programme was by picking the Cumbrian environmentally- friendly do-gooder, especially since they had not covered the county for a few days, but they did not!
Now 200,000 people live in the part of Cumbria that receives BBC North West Tonight and over 100,000 South Cumbrians have to contend with ITV1 Granada Reports. To put the lack of coverage into context, Manchester City (not the larger area of Greater Manchester) has a population of just over 550,000. It is covered every day, often with two or more news- items when one considers that Sports coverage tends to cover Manchester United or Manchester City football teams. Suppose for a moment that news concerning the City of Manchester was not covered at all every other day, but there was just one news- item when it was. That would be (pro-rata the population of Manchester City to the population of the area of Cumbria that receives BBC North West Tonight) about the same as the degree to which South Cumbrians have seen coverage of their county on BBC North West Tonight.
If one considers how often ITV Granada covers Cumbria for over 100,000 potential Cumbrian viewers in the north of it’s transmission area and consider the equivalent for all of Greater Manchester (population of 2,730,000 in 2020) then all of Greater Manchester would receive only one news item per night on ITV Granada Reports- instead of the usual three or four news- items. Uproar would ensue!
The reaction of viewers right across the ITV Granada Region to having to contend with one night with news about Yorkshire (because technical difficulties prevented ITV Granada Reports going on air, so the Granada area was provided news from ITV Calendar (Yorkshire)). You can see references to the reaction from Lancashire here (https://www.lep.co.uk/arts-and-culture/film-and-tv/these-arent-granada-folk-itv-viewers-baffled-granada-reports-replaced-itv-news-calendar-yorkshire-2986256). There were widespread complaints about receiving news that was irrelevant, not about the local area, etc.
However, viewers of Regional Television who live in South Cumbria and North Lancashire- as well as on the Isle of Man get news that is largely irrelevant to their daily lives night after night- and they don’t complain. Viewers of Regional Television who live in parts of Cumbria from Duddon Bridge, to Ulverston and Kirkby Lonsdale receive ITV1 Granada and BBC North West Tonight, they cannot easily get ITV1 Border (England)- which does cover Cumbria very well- unless they have Sky or Freeview and know how to re-tune their Digi-boxes. And many viewers in all those parts of Cumbria and in North Lancashire probably don’t even know (or believe) it is possible for them to get ITV1 Border. This Website will do everything to inform such viewers otherwise: They can get ITV1 Border (Cumbrian version) with a little expertise from a Sky or Freeview technician or, in many cases, if they don’t have Sky or Freeview an aerial technician will be able to help such viewers in South Cumbria and North Lancashire get ITV1 Border by raising their aerials high and pointing them northwards.
However, if it would cause outrage to start ignoring Greater Manchester or Liverpool every other night, it is totally unacceptable for the North West Regional Television broadcasters- (that advertise as covering the North West) to effectively fail to cover Cumbrian news for the benefit of their most northerly viewers night, after night, after night! Viewers of Regional Television in the northern North West of England (and on the Isle of Man) and readers of this Website, a line must be drawn in the sand.
The time has come, Readers to put Pen to Paper and to write to the Right Hon. Sir Oliver Dowden (OBE), MP who is the Secretary of State for the at the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport. The letter should be marked URGENT and marked F.A.O THE RIGHT HON. SIR OLIVER DOWDEN, MP, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF DIGITAL CULTURE MEDIA AND SPORT. The letter should be in this form:
FROM: [Your address]
RE- REGIONAL TELEVISION SERVING SOUTH CUMBRIA, NORTH LANCASHIRE AND THE ISLE OF MAN IS INADEQUATE
Dear Right Hon Sir Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport
SIR, my name is [Your Name] and I am writing to you because the northern half of North West England, including my community is persistently overlooked by both the North West Regional Television news- providers that we receive in our area. We never get news- coverage about major happenings not far to the north of us, news about Cumbria and on the Isle of Man is absent for days and sometimes weeks at a time. Meanwhile we have to contend with 85% coverage of Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire and South Lancashire that is usually irrelevant to our day- to- day lives.
The community where I live is just a bit too far south to easily pick up ITV Border (English version) which provides very good coverage of Cumbria and which- if it were possible to receive it- would provide coverage of news to the north of my community instead of us always getting news that is mainly well south of us. However, if we are in the north of the BBC North West and ITV1 Granada transmission areas they should be covering our communities as well as they cover the towns and cities along the M62 Corridor- and provide some coverage of northern Cumbria which is still part of North West England. The North West Region stretches from Cheshire right up to the Scottish Border but it is clear that the northern half of the North West is virtually ignored.
I would be very grateful if you could remind Programmers at BBC North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada of their responsibilities to provide news and public information for all their viewers, not just those who live in big cities in the south of the Region. The relevant email contacts are:
BBC North West Tonight: firstname.lastname@example.org
ITV1 Granada Reports: email@example.com
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and respond to my concerns.
When you have written the letter put it in a nice A4 envelope, seal it and put a first-class stamp on it, mark it URGENT and addressed as follows:
F.A.O. THE RIGHT HON. SIR OLIVER DOWDEN, OBE MP,
SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF DIGITAL CULTURE MEDIA AND SPORT
100, Parliament Street
I do believe (sadly) that unless someone in a position of Great Authority in the Government jumps upon the North West Regional Television News- producers from a great height they are not going to take much notice of South Cumbrian and North Lancastrian viewers. That’s because they will always be swayed by the interests of the five million plus folk who live in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire rather than the one million who live in what I would consider to be the North West proper. South Cumbrians and North Lancastrians will always play second fiddle to the five million Mancunians, Scousers and Chestonians- unless, of course, a bombshell is dropped upon them from On High that makes them alter their Calculations for Best Advantage money-wise!