BBC North West Tonight goes back to being Just Lancastria this Week before Christmas

18th December 2020

Dear Readers,

IF EVER the viewers of Regional Television in the northern North West of England and on the Isle of Man at all needed a sharp Reality Check as to how much either ITV1 Granada or BBC North West Tonight covers areas of North West England north of Preston they got one this week! BBC North West Tonight sometimes covers something from Cumbria every night of the week, then there will be a week without any such coverage- such as has happened this week! ITV Granada Reports goes weeks without covering Cumbria, covers the Isle of Man rarely and also covers Lancashire relatively poorly. At least BBC North West Tonight covers Lancashire well, there were three news items on BBC North West Tonight this evening concerning the county this evening and Lancashire teams did feature in the Sports coverage too.

However, just covering the counties of Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire (these make up the ancient region called Lancastria) in news- output excludes 45% of the geographical North West of England, namely Cumbria. BBC North West Tonight is not called BBC Lancastria Tonight so it should cover all of North West England, not just be restricted to “Lancastria” for days at a time.

ITV Granada Reports, which has the name of a city in southern Spain in it’s name does actually advertise as being the Regional News service for the North West, but it covers an area it likes to call “Granadaland”, which manifestly is to North West England and the Isle of Man (which it also advertises as covering): In practical experience of how “Granadaland” is referred to and what ITV Granada Reports covers, “Granadaland” really means just Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire and south Lancashire, i.e. not even “Lancastria”, just south and central “Lancastria” really!

On the basis that one or two viewers alone are not likely to be able to succeed in pressurising BBC North West Tonight, let alone ITV Granada Reports into covering all of the North West of England well, those viewers in the northern North West who want their area and places further north covered can help themselves to get better all-round Regional news coverage of all of North West England, north as well as south by taking these simple steps:

Firstly, if you live anywhere north of a line running from Southport to Rochdale you should always watch BBC North West Tonight over ITV Granada Reports: Without a doubt, you would get better local coverage since BBC North West Tonight does cover Lancashire well, in addition to covering happenings in Greater Manchester and Merseyside. ITV Granada Reports has about 80% coverage of Greater Manchester and Merseyside, a further 10% tends to be Cheshire and the High Peak area of Derbyshire leaving the remaining 10% for Lancashire/ Isle of Man- i.e. about one news-item a night from Lancashire. Forget watching ITV Granada if you hope to get any coverage of Cumbria at all!

Secondly, if you live in Lancashire and South Cumbria in places where your default ITV Region is ITV Granada, re-tune your Sky/ Freeview Digi-box associated with your television (or get your Sky or Freeview technician to do this for you if this is a bit beyond you!) so that it has your postcode as a central Lake District or Kendal postcode (those starting LA9, LA22 or LA23). This will keep your BBC Region as BBC North West but your ITV1 Region will become ITV1 Border (England)- which covers Cumbria extremely well. In these days of digital television, you should be able to pick up ITV Border on Freeview from as far south as Preston with favourable topography and an aerial pointing north (with a clear view to the north). Further south, you can still receive ITV Border (English version) from Sky or by using ITV Hub and watching ITV Border (England) Lookaround news- programme on your computer.

This way you can fix it for yourself so that if you live in Lancashire or South Cumbria you can watch ITV1 Border (England)’s Lookaround at on weekday evenings to get the Cumbrian news- news about places you visit (even if you live as far south as Wigan, you will have visited the Lakes on days out in the summer), where you work or even where you live (if you live in South Cumbria). Then you can watch BBC North West Tonight to get news about Lancashire and the main urban centres in the southern North West of England- i.e. good local and all-round news-coverage.

Thirdly, write to BBC North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports to explain why you are turning away from ITV1 Granada, that’s it’s the same reason why you also have these issues with BBC North West Tonight: Namely that the northern half of North West England is scarcely- covered in news- output, if ever, that you expect a North West Regional News service to cover northern communities and provide news- coverage of all of North West England- right up to the Scottish Border. Tell them you are prepared to pay up to £100 to get the Sky Technician in to tweak your telly so that you can receive more local north-of-area Cumbrian news- in order that you get good all-round coverage north as well as south (i.e. across ALL of North West England!).

The relevant email contact details are: (for BBC North West Tonight) (for ITV1 Granada Reports)

The one-two-three punch of Choosing (out of existing North West Regional news services), Acting (by getting a Sky technician in, in order that you might access a better local/ north of area news-service from ITV Border) and then Writing (telling BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports that their coverage of the northern North West is not good enough) will send a powerful message. If just a few folk living in Lancashire and South Cumbria follow- through with this, it will lead to a major rethink in BBC North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports’ Head-Sheds!

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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