All North West Regional Coverage South of Preston- again

26th May 2021

From time to time, viewers who live in northern North West England- but still in those areas where the two main default choices for Regional Television are ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight– must get the impression that the two main choices on offer Close Ranks- against them! How else can they make sense of both ITV1 Granada and BBC North West having a week (at the same time) of zero coverage of any areas north of Preston? It is shameful.

There are, perhaps a million inhabitants who live north of Preston who are, nonetheless, a bit too far south to easily (or without considerable expense) pick up ITV1 Border (England) with its flagship Lookaround news programme that does cover Cumbria extremely well- and which would provide a whole lot of news still local to (albeit north of) these one million inhabitants that they would be unlikely to get from either the two main North West Regional broadcasters.

This evening, BBC1 Look North (broadcast to the North East of England and northern Cumbria) covered the activities of a Kendal (i.e., South Cumbria) paedophile jailed for serious child- pornography offences (details here: Meanwhile a major murder trial involving five male suspects under way at Carlisle Crown Court was covered both on BBC1 Look North (mainly broadcast to North East England) and ITV1 Border’s Lookaround (see here: These were news-events pertaining to serious crimes that anyone living north of Preston might want to have been informed about- but they were not because neither ITV1 Granada nor BBC1 North West like going north of their transmission areas, though (if the truth be known) Kendal is right on the northern border of the ITV1 Granada transmission region and well within the north of BBC North West’s transmission area!

Most of the coverage on both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports this week has concerned the Indian variant of Covid 19 in Bolton, Blackburn, Burnley and (lately) Liverpool (cases are quite low), the collapse of the Hillsborough Trial involving three men accused of perverting the course of justice (the Hillsborough disaster happened 32 years ago), the ongoing Inquest into the deaths at the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in 2017 and, of course, both North West Regional broadcasters went big on Manchester United’s match against Villarreal in Gdansk, Poland! I suppose it’s fine if one lives in Manchester and loves Manchester United, but it is far from fine if you live in Carnforth, North Lancashire or Kendal -and would have wished to be informed about the paedophile with extreme child- pornography in your local communities!

For much of North West England, particularly those areas northwards of Preston, Regional Television coverage as received by the viewers is not geographically- appropriate and it does not exactly reflect the concerns and values of folk living in those areas. ITV1 Granada Reports is, in particular, concerned with inner- city metropolitan issues that are representative of multi-cultural Manchester and Liverpool but not of what might be considered “Provincial North West England”- that of towns well away from these urban centres- such as Blackpool, Chorley, Morecambe, Barrow-in-Furness or Penrith (the last of which ITV1 Granada Reports would never cover because it’s “Outside our Patch”!).

Viewers of Regional Television who live in Lancashire and South Cumbria expect a North West Regional News service to cover all of North West England, which for their purposes stretches from Cheshire to the Scottish border (i.e., covering all the geographic North West and all the places they are likely to visit). Since this is not happening both North West Regional Television broadcasters need to feel compelled to rectify this- quickly. The best way to bring this about is to e-mail them, then if they do not improve coverage (or refuse to on the grounds of millions more Liverpudlians and Mancunians) to write to your Member of Parliament whose address is always:

House of Commons, LONDON. SW1A 0AA.

If enough viewers of North West Regional Television living in Lancashire and South Cumbria write- in and complain to their MP stating that their Regional News is not relevant not geographically- appropriate, that it does not cover the northern North West of England the programmers at BBC North West and ITV1 Granada will start getting letters from MPs based in North West England telling them to up their game or face direct intervention.

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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