North Lancashire is in the Wrong ITV Region

Dear Readers

Watching ITV1 Granada Reports this evening was an eye- opener. Most of the “News” coverage was dedicated to Manchester City’s up-coming Champions League match in Porto, Portugal: ITV1 Granada even went out of the way to send a reporter there! Amongst the other coverage was the footballer Marcus Rashford chatting to former US President Barack Obama, a road- smash in Stockport and, of course, the increased incidence of Indian variant of Covid 19 found in various towns in east Lancashire and northern Greater Manchester.

By way of contrast ITV Border’s Lookaround programme had two news-features about Carlisle, including the headline news-feature about a woman who died after falling then being dropped whilst in hospital, Kirkoswald and Penrith featured, Keswick featured in the second (extensive) report on Tourism and Silloth, on the North Cumbrian coast featured too. There was also a brief clip at the end of Lookaround about a mini-tornado being spotted in the Eden Valley. Two other news-items featured Dumfries in south-west Scotland, Melrose in the Scottish borders and the other news-item was about soldiers suffering post traumatic stress disorder walking the Pennine Way which the news- presenter mentioned travelled through Cumbria and ended in the Scottish Borders.

Viewers in northern Lancashire and a large coastal crescent of South Cumbria stretching from Kirkby Lonsdale in the east to Ulverston, then up as far as Millom in the north- west receive ITV1 Granada Reports as their default ITV Regional News programme, they cannot get ITV1 Border’s  Lookaround programme of which news about Cumbria accounted for some two thirds of all coverage this evening. In fact, ITV1 Border’s Lookaround usually has over 50% of news-coverage being about Cumbria.

From this comparison of two ITV Regions, each serving different parts of North West England although ITV1 Granada is the only one available across extensive parts of northern North West England, this raises a serious point: Are northern Lancashire and those parts of Cumbria receiving ITV1 Granada output in the right ITV1 Region? Looking at the showing that there was this evening from ITV1 Granada and ITV1 Border which would be more geographically- appropriate to viewers in Kirkby Lonsdale, Millom (both in Cumbria) or in Morecambe? Bearing in mind that extensive coverage of Sports puts a lot of viewers off, Marcus Rashford meeting Barack Obama is hardly “Local News” and Stockport is even less local than Carlisle. The most northerly news-items featured parts of east Lancashire with the drip-drip rise in cases of Covid-19- which is further from Lancaster in terms of travel time than is Penrith that featured in ITV1 Border’s Lookaround programme.

For the South Cumbrian viewers, it is patently obvious that they would want the Regional News- service that has often got two-thirds of total coverage being about their own county of Cumbria, with at least 50% at other times. News about the Lakes, about tourism, which is directly relevant to folk living in South Cumbria is relevant to their concerns and issues: “News” (if you can call it that) which is about Marcus Rashford meeting Barack Obama or Manchester City in Portugal- both of which do not even happen in the UK, let alone locally is not locally-relevant and neither is it something affecting most folk’s lives in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire.

There are even questions about how much ITV1 Granada Reports decidedly metropolitan (and decidedly woke) offerings are relevant to anyone living north of the M62 Corridor: Sound advice for anyone living in those areas would be to watch BBC1 North West Tonight which does cover more of Lancashire and will mention Cumbria at times. Just today, BBC North West Tonight featured a diver finding an engagement ring at the bottom of Lake Windermere- with the lady who lost it originally being very happy at the news. ITV1 Granada Reports almost never covers Cumbria!

A major public- awareness exercise is required for communities across South Cumbria and northern Lancashire- which is that even though ITV1 Border do not cover northern Lancashire in their output it has far more news about the issues that actually have salience with local viewers and it covers Cumbria extremely, extremely well: North Lancastrians, with strong connections to Cumbria, would do extremely well to try and tune in to ITV1 Border to find out what is happening just to the north of them then, at 6.30 pm switching over to BBC1 North West Tonight to get the news just to the south of them. That’s the combination of Regional News- coverage that viewers who live in and just north of Kendal have and, without ITV1 Border, viewers there would suffer the same appalling Hobson’s Choices that viewers in places like Ulverston, Carnforth and Morecambe suffer (even BBC North West fails to get north of Preston- and becomes Manchester/ Liverpool- centric- at times). This Website will, of course, continue to highlight the geographical- inappropriateness of news-coverage as is watched across an extensive area of northern North West England.

The Isle of Man is also a sizeable island with a population of 85,000 (and a small country in its own right, with its own Parliament) where Manx viewers must be baffled by the fact that they have (effectively) no choice, but Greater Manchester/ Merseyside dominated coverage: This is certainly not local to the Crown Dependency, and it truly is a wonder if viewers are not complaining in their thousands to the Manx government about this! The Channel Islands, another UK Crown Dependency with just double the population of the Isle of Man has its own ITV1 Region and a news opt-out from BBC South West- imagine the reaction if the BBC1 Channel Islands’ opt-out and ITV1 Channel were axed and folk living in Guernsey and Jersey had to put up with “local” news about Bristol and Somerset (involving a ferry journey of several hours plus a long drive to get to)- there would be total uproar! Manx viewers of ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight should realise how much they are being cheated- and write to their government about it.     

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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