Viewers of Regional Television in South Cumbria Don’t Get the Cumbria- focussed Regional News

May 2021

Dear Readers

If you live on the Furness Peninsula, just south and south-west of Kendal or near the Duddon estuary you have a choice of two main Regional Television News- services. One of them is BBC1 North West Tonight and the other is ITV1 Granada Reports. Neither serve these areas of South Cumbria well, although BBC1 North West Tonight will cover South Cumbrian news from time to time (but very rarely, if ever, parts of North and West Cumbria). ITV1 Granada Reports virtually never covers any part of Cumbria- and rarely gets north of Preston.

Both these Regional News services, that advertise as covering North West England as well as the Isle of Man simply major on Greater Manchester, Liverpool, the Wirral and Cheshire- although BBC North West does also cover Lancashire well and sometimes covers Cumbrian news. The Programme Producers for BBC North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports would simply say that since 80% of their viewer live in the urban areas south of Preston or in Cheshire that there is not much they can do about improving coverage further north without upsetting viewers in Greater Manchester, Liverpool, the Wirral or Cheshire, but that does not (and should not) mean that viewers in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire should suffer just having versions of North West England Regional news that is skewed towards the major conurbations an hour’s drive or further to the south of their communities. Likewise for viewers on the Isle of Man- they should not have to contend with poor local coverage of their island but just have two choices of “local” television that covers Manchester, Liverpool and Cheshire which are all a six-hour ferry- ride away!

But there is a solution to these problems for viewers on the Isle of Man and in parts of Cumbria that do not get much local news from the Regional News services that are supposed to serve them: Viewers in North and West Cumbria- and in parts of the South Lakes- are already well-served by ITV1 Border’s flagship Regional News programme Lookaround that already provides very good coverage of Cumbria (some 50% or more of news- coverage is about Cumbria). The obvious solution is for ITV to switch those parts of South Cumbria that currently pick up ITV Granada to their ITV1 Border Region- so that South Cumbrian viewers can watch a local/ regional news-programme that covers Cumbria (including South Cumbria) very much better than ITV1 Granada Reports or BBC North West Tonight ever will. This need not cost ITV1 much, it is just a one- off tweaking of transmitters that would do the trick.

If you live in South Cumbria and cannot pick up ITV1 Border, you can infact contact ITV1 Border directly to state that you would very much like to be able to get their news- programming because of its excellent coverage of Cumbria: State that the two main choices that you are lumbered with- BBC North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports do not serve your community at all well with relevant local news. You can contact ITV1 Border at btvnews@itv.com. You can also contact the main ITV1 Border News- presenter, Ian Payne at  ianp@itvplc.com. Tell them that you want your area to be able to pick up ITV1 Border because you are fed up with just getting a choice of two Manchester/ Liverpool – dominated Regional News programmes.  If you have Sky, you can also get your Sky Digi-Box address changed to that you can pick up ITV1 Border but keep BBC North West- a technician will come and do this for you for about £150 if you are not technically- savvy. If your Digi-Box is programmed with a Windermere or Ambleside post-code you will receive ITV1 Border’s Lookaround at 6.pm then get BBC1 North West Tonight at 6.30 pm because that is what viewers living in those parts of the South Lakes pick up. Local and north-of-area news at 6.pm can then be followed by Regional south- of- area news at 6.30 pm (upon switching over to BBC 1).  

You can also contact BBC1 North West Tonight (email: nwt@bbc.co.uk.) and ITV1 Granada Reports (email: granada.reports@itv.com.) to state that you are writing to ITV1 Border to see if they can sort it so that you get their programming because they provide so much more Cumbrian news- coverage and not news mainly about the urban areas well over an hour’s travel- time to the south. Tell them that you are also getting your Sky technician in to alter the post-code in your Digi-Box so that you can pick up ITV1 Border rather than ITV1 Granada in the mean-time. This will have more impact than complaining to BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada about the fact that they don’t cover Cumbria well (which they will likely ignore because most of their viewers live south of Preston). However, if they realise they are losing viewers to competition in the north of their transmission areas they will be compelled to do something about it. If you live in northern Lancashire you can also put pressure on BBC North West and ITV1 Granada by asserting that you are planning on switching over to ITV1 Border to get news about Cumbria- which is not far to the north- because both main North West Regional Television services often fail to cover the northern half of North West England.   

Sadly, for viewers on the Isle of Man, a specialist local Isle of Man television service (Internet- based) called Manx Telecom TV, has now shut down. There is, however, a You Tube production called Isle of Man TV (link here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCIWwfPM2JDFBa_dj3OykOg), which provides more local news- content and it is certainly better than a choice between ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight – neither of which do justice to this Crown Dependency in the Irish Sea and well- away from North West England.  Now, Isle of Man TV is not a real Regional Television News-service, thus the Isle of Man is poorly- served.

Either BBC North West or ITV1 Granada should provide an opt-out local news- service for the Isle of Man and face pressure from OFCOM to provide it or, failing that, a consortium of businesses (with some assistance from the Manx Government) should set up a bespoke Isle of Man Television- service. If you live on the Isle of Man- and are appalled by the lack of a proper Isle of Man Television News- service your first point of contact should be Department of Enterprise of the Isle of Man Government: Email ded@gov.im.  In the mean-time also write to BBC North West at nwt@bbc.co.uk and ITV1 Granada at granada.reports@itv.com to state that you will be watching Isle of Man TV because 95% of the programme- output is not relevant to your community on the Isle of Man.

However, for viewers in South Cumbria to be forced to choose between two Regional News service providers that seldom cover their communities- whilst just twenty miles to the north an excellent  Regional Television News service that covers Cumbria very well (which many South Cumbrians cannot access with ease) is an absurd situation. It is one that local MPs in South Cumbria should be made aware of- and pressure should be brought to bear on the Regional Television producers serving South Cumbria to either improve their coverage or (in the case of ITV1 Granada) give up that part of their transmission area to ITV1 Border. If you wish to write to your local MP to suggest this then the details of your Constituency MP are as follows if you live in these areas:

Westmorland and Lonsdale:  Right Hon. Tim Farron, MP: Email tim@timfarron.co.uk.

Barrow and Furness: Right Hon. Simon Fell, MP: Email simon.fell.mp@parliament.uk.

Copeland Constituency (covers Millom):  Right Hon. Trudy Harrison, MP: Email trudy.harrison.mp@parliament.uk.

Morecambe and Lunesdale (North Lancashire):  Right Hon. David Morris, MP:  Email david.morris.mp@parliament.uk.    

The more folk who live in the northern North West of England who write to their MPs- to get OFCOM to drop like a tonne weight on Regional Television Programmers that do not provide adequate or geographically- appropriate Regional and local news- coverage, the more viewers in the northern half of North West England are likely to end up with appropriate local coverage one way or another. That will either be because ITV1 Granada is forced to hand over some of its more northerly territory to ITV1 Border or because BBC1 North West or ITV1 Granada are required to improve local coverage for South Cumbria, the Isle of Man and northern Lancashire (hopefully with a requirement for opt-out programming and overlap coverage of northern Cumbria to be included in the output).

Published by northwestisnorthwest

I live near Alston in north -east Cumbria (and yes, it is in North West England). I have friends who live in the middle part of North West England - near Lancaster (which is where I went to University and used to live until 14 years ago). 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! 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!!

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