Wanted: A North West Regional News- Service that majors on Lancashire and Cumbria

30th April 2021

Updated 26th July 2021

Dear Readers

Again, over the last week neither ITV 1 Granada Reports nor BBC 1 North West Tonight have touched on Cumbria. Although BBC North West does cover Lancashire and south Cumbria better than ITV 1 Granada, neither can be said to cover Lancashire and Cumbria well. And, as this last week amply demonstrated, there was plenty happening in Cumbria, none of which made the Regional News headlines in the North West of England!

In the last few days, Great North Air Ambulance launched it’s new helicopter- called “Pride of Cumbria”, today there’s reports of about toxic palm oil washed up on the beach in West Cumbria and the fell-runner Sabrina Verjee is attempting to beat last year’s record of six days and six hours for running up and down all 214 Wainwrights (mountains/ fells in the Lake District). Plus, this morning on the last day of April some of the tops of the said- Lakeland fells were white after snow-showers overnight! Also, last night, over 617 people in the Ulverston area of South Cumbria were hit with a power- cut.

Whilst it is possible that viewers of Regional Television who live in Cumbria can receive ITV1 Border’s Lookaround news- bulletin- which covers Cumbria extremely well there is a lack of geographic- appropriate Regional news for northern Lancashire, South Cumbria and the Isle of Man: This is important when one considers that ITV1 Border is not readily available for viewers in parts of South Cumbria- around Barrow-in-Furness, Millom and just south of Kendal and ITV1 Border is not readily available to viewers in northern Lancashire. For viewers on the Isle of Man, they would also struggle to pick up ITV1 Border, at least in the south of the island and (since the Isle of Man is no longer ITV Border’s responsibility) they would get no news coverage of the island at all. For viewers in northern Lancashire, the excellent coverage of Cumbria on ITV1 Border would be of interest to them- if they visit Cumbria and have friends/ family or work there, but to find out about what is happening in Lancashire they would have to switch over to BBC North West Tonight. Furthermore, about 50% of ITV Border’s output is about southern Scotland and- whilst this would big- up the Northern pride of North Lancastrians, what happens in Stranraer, Hawick or Coldstream is no more relevant to folk living in Lancaster, Morecambe or Fleetwood than is the news they receive about Buxton, Crewe or Sandbach on ITV Granada Reports!

It is more than a cliché to note that there is no great Regional News service tailored to viewers across an extensive area of North West England- stretching from Preston in the south to Penrith in the north- and stretching west to the coast. Across this huge area viewers are not particularly interested in what happens in South Cheshire but neither will they be interested in what happens in South Ayrshire or the north-east end of the Scottish Borders. They would be best served by a news- service that covers Cumbria and Lancashire very well with some overlap south to Manchester/ Liverpool, some overlap north into Dumfriesshire and the south-western Scottish Borders and a little overlap east to western North Yorkshire and western County Durham. This bespoke North West Regional News service would cover an area with a population exceeding one million people, so the news- service would cover an area with several times the population and geographic area of the Channel Islands (where viewers get their own ITV1 Channel news- service).

Neither the BBC nor ITV will create another Regional news- service on the grounds of cost- though that is really what needs to happen. However OFCOM could, through the pressure of sufficient South Cumbrians and North Lancastrians, require ITV1 Border to extend its coverage and transmission area south to Preston, Blackpool and east Lancashire (north of Burnley). OFCOM could then require ITV Border to provide a news- service broadcast to South and West Cumbria, northern Lancashire and the Isle of Man that would cover the Isle of Man again- and require ITV1 Border to provide 40% coverage of Cumbria, 35% coverage of Lancashire, 15% coverage of the Isle of Man- plus 10% overlap news- coverage northwards across southern Scotland, eastwards as far as a line from Newcastle to Harrogate and southwards to Manchester/Liverpool. Northern Cumbria and southern Scotland could continue to receive ITV1 Border news- programming as at present. ITV1 Granada would be relieved of its responsibility towards viewers in northern/ central Lancashire, parts of South Cumbria and the Isle of Man- whom it serves badly in terms of relevant, geographically- appropriate local news- coverage.

In the meantime, if you live anywhere north of Preston and are currently stuck with ITV1 Granada then, for about £150 you could get your Sky technician to alter the Regional settings on your television so that you can pick up ITV Border (England) but keep BBC North West.

However, if you are more technically-savvy you could change your ITV Region to Border yourself using the following instructions:

for Sky Q customers

Access the manual tuning menu by pressing the home button, scrolling down to Settings, then down to Manual tuning. Head to the bottom and select ‘Add a channel’, then enter the details for the specific region you want to access (see the ‘Region Details’ section below) and select ‘Find channels’. Locate the region you wish to add, select it, then select ‘Save channels’.

To watch the new channel, visit the manual tuning menu and select the channel from the list.

for Sky+ customers

Access the ‘Options’ sub-menu within the Sky on-screen guide. Select ‘Add channels’, then enter the details for the specific region you want to access (see the ‘Region Details’ section below) and press the yellow button to search. Locate the region you wish to add then press yellow again, then press ‘Select’ to save.

To watch the new channel, visit the ‘Other channels’ menu and select the channel from the list.

Region Details

Enter the following details where prompted to access ITV Border (England) Region.

This Code: 11.068 V, SR 23000, FEC 3/4, DVB-S2, 8PSK

ITV Border England

(Source: https://www.mediamole.co.uk/entertainment/broadcasting/feature/how-to-access-other-itv-regions-through-sky_408988.html )

Unfortunately, if you have Freeview, you may not be able to pick up ITV Border if you live in Millom, Barrow or Blackpool, although if you are connected to the Internet you can now watch ITV Border’s Lookaround through the ITV Border website- usually available just after airing live (here: https://www.itv.com/news/border). You can watch North West Tonight on BBC1 to get the news of Lancashire and just to the south of your area, then go onto the Internet to watch ITV1 Border’s Lookaround to get the Cumbrian news that’s locally to the north of you.

In the meantime you can contact BBC North West Tonight- email nwt@bbc.co.uk and contact ITV Granada Reports at granada.reports@itv.com. You can then explain that you want a more Lancashire/ Cumbria appropriate news- service and if you are not happy with the reply you can then contact OFCOM (adding with the above suggestion about your area being transferred to ITV Border- so that you have a more geographically North West -appropriate news- service). Their postal address is:

OFCOM Complaints, PO Box 1285, Warrington WA1 9GL.

The more viewers in the northern North West who actively complain about inadequate Regional Television coverage of the north of the region, who contact the regional- news provider, then approach OFCOM if the response is unsatisfactory the better chance of a positive outcome. If you decide to switch over to ITV Border, you can tell ITV Granada in your email to them that you are thinking of abandoning them for ITV Border on the grounds that ITV Granada “Almost never covers the northern half of North West England”. Since ITV depends on advertising revenue- which in turn is dependent on viewers- this will sharpen the minds of News- programmers at ITV Plc!

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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