Persistence of Manchester- Liverpool bias in North West Regional TV shows need for Reform.

17th April 2021

Dear Readers

The tragic and sad death of HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was covered on BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports: On BBC North West Tonight there were with highlights of the places that he and Her Majesty the Queen visited over the years. Included in coverage was footage of the Queen and Prince Philip visiting Manchester and Liverpool in the 1950’s, visited Manchester after the IRA bombing there in 1996, visited a factory in Oldham in the 1950’s. Even the Isle of Man got one mention as the coverage pointed out they were there on the Isle of Man in 1979. The most northerly coverage for North West England was their crossing of Morecambe Bay with the experienced Cedric Robinson in 1985. Nothing of Cumbria per-se.

But HM The Queen and the HRH the Duke of Edinburgh did visit Cumbria over the years: HRH Prince Phillip regularly attended Horse- driving trials at Lowther, near Penrith and in 2008 both HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip visited Whitehaven, in West Cumbria in 2008. It would have been appropriate- and proper- to have at least one of these pieces of footage of HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip in Cumbria for the benefit of viewers in the northern half of North West England, thousands of whom are still just a bit too far south to pick up ITV1 Border, with it’s excellent Cumbrian coverage.

It follows that reform of Regional Television broadcasting in North West England is long overdue: The urban areas of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire have two Regional News services that both major heavily on their part of North West England, whilst those parts of South Cumbria and North Lancashire that are still just a bit too far south to readily pick up ITV Border (unless, that is, those viewers are prepared for the expense and hassle of getting their televisions re-programmed) are almost ignored on both ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC North West Tonight. This duplication of coverage across the south of the Region is a waste of resources, whilst places further north get little, if any, coverage of the places and communities around (and especially just to the north) of them.

It requires at least some intervention from organisations like OFCOM and from the Government to bring about the change that should be introduced: ITV1 Granada, the transmission area of which does not north extend into Cumbria as much as BBC North West’s, should be left to major on Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Cheshire and north-west Derbyshire (plus sports coverage) whilst BBC North West Tonight is required to provide much more pan- regional (i.e. English North West) flavoured news- bulletins- and including northern Cumbria coverage even though it is north of their transmission area. This makes sense because ITV is dependent on advertising revenue (so maximum viewer- numbers is important). On the other hand the BBC is funded by the TV License fee, so can afford to cater more for communities with lower populations that are distant from the cities. Then viewers in Morecambe and Lupton (South Cumbria) have a North West Regional news- service providing excellent local and all-round news-coverage whilst viewers in Manchester and Liverpool still do.

This is not a policy that would add costs to the BBC and ITV overall, it just means that BBC North West and ITV Granada would, instead of both competing for the attention of five million -plus Mancunians, Liverpudlians and Chestonians whilst both (effectively at least) ignoring North Lancastrians, South Cumbrians and Manx viewers start covering the different areas of the North West they are suited to. If ITV Granada Reports majored more on the cities the south of the Region would get even better coverage than they do today, whilst if BBC North West strived to cover all of North West England and the Isle of Man by more geographical area (as well as by population) the North of the Region would enjoy a much better Regional news- service too. No-one would miss out and all viewers in the North West would enjoy access to geographic- appropriate Regional News- coverage!

If you live in South Cumbria or northern Lancashire, and you believe this is a great idea then email them as follows:

BBC North West Tonight:

ITV Granada Reports:

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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