BBC NORTHWEST TONIGHT HAD A FIVE- MINUTE REPORT ABOUT WEST CUMBRIA LAST WEEK

22nd February 2021

Dear Readers

Last Wednesday (17th February) BBC North West Tonight ran a five- minute report on their main bulletin about the Whitehaven area in West Cumbria in connection with the new coal- mine to be built in the area: Cumbria County Council HAD previously given planning approval for the UK’s first coal- mine to be built in thirty years but had decided to withdraw their decision in the face of opposition from climate- change and green campaigners. The BBC’s flagship Regional News programme for North West England covered this story and interviewed local folk to guage reaction to the fact that planning authorisation for the proposed coal mine had been rescinded, there was more concern that the go- ahead would ultimately be given because local jobs depended on it.

Whitehaven is about twenty miles north of the BBC North West transmission area and it is the fist time in years that a report, taking up almost a fifth of the main 27-minute Regional bulletin has covered any part of North or West Cumbria north of the BBC North West’s transmission area. BBC North West Tonight also covered Patterdale Mountain Rescue- which operates on the fells above Ullswater on the same evening. This area is also (just) north of BBC North West’s transmission area. This means that South Cumbrians who live on the very northern margins of BBC North West’s transmission area- and who watched BBC North West Tonight last Wednesday- got to hear much more news about communities local to them than they would have otherwise.

All of this illustrates an acceptance (and indeed a measure of willingness) from BBC North West Regional News programmers to cover the northern two-thirds of Cumbria in Regional news output, and also a measure of awareness from BBC North West news- programmers that the flagship Regional News programme should cover all of North West England in news- coverage to be considered a real North West Regional news programme.

There are other indications that BBC North West Tonight programmers are willing to include northern and West Cumbria in their output: The table of changes in the prevalence of Covid-19 week by week for all parts of North West England has started to include Copeland and Allerdale districts in West Cumbria, Eden District and Carlisle in the east and north of the county respectively. If BBC North West Tonight maintain and improve even more on their coverage of all Cumbria the flagship BBC Regional News programme will provide a real alternative for Regional and local news compared to ITV1 Granada Reports (which just about mentions Cumbria once in a blue moon)- for communities across Lancashire and South Cumbria and also boroughs like Wigan and Bolton (which have more affinity with Lancashire than South Manchester or Merseyside).

My advice, more than ever, is that anyone living north of a line running from Southport to Rochdale should watch BBC North West Tonight, not ITV1 Granada Reports to get more local news with news-coverage from across all of the North West of England- not just the southern third of the Region. If BBC North West Tonight maintain and improve their coverage of Cumbria into the future viewers in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire will not need to despair if they cannot readily get ITV1 Border (English version), they will not need to spend £££ on Sky/ Freeview technicians in order to get ITV1 Border since South Cumbrians will be able to gain sufficient coverage of their own county from BBC North West Tonight programming; North Lancastrians will no longer have to put up with lopsided coverage (i.e. all to the south)- of the English North West as they understand it!

Keep up the good work BBC North West Tonight programmers!

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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