Both BBC North West and ITV Granada are Just South Lancastria/ Cheshire this weekend

17th January 2021

Dear Readers

Sometimes, BBC North West and ITV1 Granada close ranks in a way to provide a harsh reality check for those who live in the North of the transmission areas of both the North West Regional Television transmission regions- i.e. for those who live north of Preston: BBC North West Tonight’s short Saturday bulletin yesterday evening was just such a sharp reminder that neither of the two main Regional broadcasters cover all of North West England and certainly do not cover the northern two-thirds of the English North West in any way that could be described as”Well”.

Both ITV Granada Reports and BBC North West Tonight just covered Gerry Marsden’s funeral in Liverpool (he of Gerry and the Pacemaker’s), Mancunians travelling to Staffordshire to get a MacDonald’s meal (and getting fined £200 each for breaking Coronavirus restrictions) and folk visiting Dovestone Reservoir at Saddleworth, east of Manchester: There was NO NEWS about Cumbria, NO NEWS about Lancashire (a low for BBC North West, which normally covers the county well) and there was nothing for the Isle of Man!

Meanwhile, South Cumbrian viewers of BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports were not informed were not informed about the rapidly- rising cases of Covid- 19 across their county and they were not advised that Carlisle should (just for now) be given a wide berth because it has one of the highest infection rates in the country. It would be in their interests to inform them since folk who live in South Cumbria do venture as far as Carlisle to go shopping or for work purposes!

Although BBC North West Tonight is the better choice out of it and ITV1 Granada Reports for viewers who live north of a line running from Southport to Rochdale, that is not to say that either provide a Regional News service that is appropriate for viewers in more northern parts of North West England: If you live in Kendal, Lancaster, Blackpool, Morecambe, Millom or Garstang an appropriate Regional news-service would mainly cover Lancashire and central/ South Cumbria- plus some further-afield coverage of significant happenings from Manchester in the south to the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle in the north along with coverage eastwards to the western half of the Yorkshire Dales. News from these areas will be more relevant to communities in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire.

An appropriate Regional News service for more northerly parts of North West England would also cover Poverty in coastal towns, issues affecting rural communities like slow broadband, poor Public Transport and poor road/rail links, and issues around Farming/ Tourism. Metropolitan urban concerns that do not speak to provincial parts of North West England- like Black Lives Matter, Gay Pride and “Muslims not able to get to Mosques during Coronavirus restrictions”, will not the primary issues of concern for those living in the more provincial parts of North West England: ITV Granada Reports actually advertises itself as “Out of Touch” to its more northerly viewers by having a big spread on its Website for “Black Lives Matter”! Now “Black Lives Matter” will for sure be a trendy concern for students at the University of Manchester, but it is not a concern to a struggling single mother living in Blackpool or a farmer facing a challenging winter on the fells above Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria- their primary concerns would be “Money, Money Money”, How to avoid Bankruptcy, How to Keep Warm in Winter and, also, How to Get Enough Money to Improve Our Living Standards.

If you live in South Cumbria and North Lancashire do, if you can, try to get ITV1 Border (English version), which although it does not cover Lancashire does cover Cumbria (including South Cumbria) very well in news- coverage. The topics that ITV Border’s flagship News- programme Lookaround cover, are also those with more relevance to the bread-and-butter issues that affect viewers in Cumbria and northern Lancashire- namely unemployment, Austerity benefit cuts, tourism, farming and (in winter) spells of severe weather with snow and ice, the like of which has adversely affected travel across much of rural North West England. If you live in northern Lancashire, Lancs Live (see here for link: always has a good amount of news, clips and some videos about what is happening in your county and, with some technological assistance, you can connect it to your television to provide yourself with a decent up- to- date local “Television News” service. You can then watch ITV Border (English version) to get good coverage of happenings across Cumbria just to the north.

If enough folk in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire did this- and tuned into ITV1 Border’s Lookaround and Lancs Live instead of ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC North West Tonight , the main Regional Television News services for North West England will soon be forced to Up Their Game so that they dont lose their more northerly viewers.

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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