Neither BBC North West Tonight nor ITV Granada have touched Cumbria the last few days. There is a need for Pressure to be Brought to Bear on the North West Television broadcasters.

10th November 2020

Up-dated 16th September 2021 after Government Cabinet re-shuffle

Dear Readers

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)), was illuminating. 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! For 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. Lady Nadine Dorries, 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. LADY NADINE DORRIES, MP, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF DIGITAL CULTURE MEDIA AND SPORT. The letter should be in this form:

FROM: [Your address]

November 2020

RE- REGIONAL TELEVISION SERVING SOUTH CUMBRIA, NORTH LANCASHIRE AND THE ISLE OF MAN IS INADEQUATE

Dear Right Hon Lady Nadine Dorries, 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: nwt@bbc.co.uk

ITV1 Granada Reports: granada.reports@itv.com

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and respond to my concerns.

Yours Sincerely

[Your Name]

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. LADY NADINE DORRIES, MP

SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF DIGITAL CULTURE MEDIA AND SPORT

100, Parliament Street

Westminster

LONDON

SW1A 2BQ

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!

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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