2nd June 2021
Updated 14th June 2021
I again watched the three Regional News services that are watched by viewers in different parts of North West England, that ITV1 Border’s Lookaround, BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports: Internet and the BBC I-player and ITV Regional news catch-up does make it possible to watch the different Regional News services, to compare and contrast. And for the purposes of this Website to make recommendations as to which Regional News- services (or combination thereof) you should watch dependent on where one lives in North West England. You can see the results of this same exercise completed yesterday here (https://northwestisnorthwest.org/2021/06/01/south-cumbrians-and-north-lancastrians-should-watch-itv-border-then-bbc-north-west-for-best-all-round-local-news/)
Currently, only for viewers in central and northern Cumbria is ITV1 Border the default ITV1 Region for local news coverage, BBC1 North West Tonight is received by default across all of North West England except for northern and West Cumbria and also the Isle of Man whilst ITV1 Granada Reports is broadcast to all of North West England (except the parts of Cumbria that receive ITV1 Border) as well as the Isle of Man. However, whether the default Regional news services are in fact the best ones for the areas covered is most entirely another matter!
This evening my findings were even more stark than those yesterday: ITV1 Border’s flagship Regional News Programme Lookaround was outstanding in terms of the amount of Cumbrian coverage- six out of the eleven news- features concerned Cumbria (including one for Kendal), whilst the remaining five news- features covered southern Scotland. BBC1 North West Tonight had one news item on the problems associated with heavy traffic in the Lake District whilst a second news- feature covered the proposal for North Lancashire and South Cumbria to join and become “The Bay” Unitary Authority and there were two other news- features covering Lancashire. ITV1 Granada Reports, by contrast, did not cover anything about Cumbria whilst the worry over rising Indian- variant Covid 19 cases in east Lancashire was covered as was a brief mention of Blackpool. The remainder of the coverage was about Greater Manchester, Liverpool, The Wirral and Cheshire- and almost half the programme was taken up with Sport (Everton Football Club, Liverpool and Manchester City).
The news- coverage of these different Regional News- services emphasises the point that ITV1 Granada Reports does not, in any way, provide a geographically- appropriate news- service for any communities north of Preston, if you live in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire that you should avoid ITV1 Granada Reports unless you want 80 to 85% of the coverage to be about Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire! If you want local news- coverage that is geographically- appropriate, it is abundantly clear that anyone living north of a line running from Southport to Rochdale should choose BBC1 North West Tonight over ITV1 Granada Reports– every time!
However, although BBC1 North West Tonight does cover Cumbria at least once whilst there will inevitably be two or three news- features about Lancashire on weeknights, there will be some weeks when Cumbria is not mentioned at all but Lancashire is still well- covered: Thus, to be sure of a good regional spread of news-coverage from where you live (north as well as south) ITV1 Border’s Lookaround programme should be your go- to ITV1 Regional News- programme rather than ITV1 Granada Reports if you live north of Preston. Of course, there is the southern Scottish news, but if you live in say, Lancaster or Morecambe, news about the Peak District or Cheshire is not local. For the extensive parts of northern Lancashire that are rural, i.e., Garstang, Clitheroe, Barnoldswick, then the mainly metropolitan news- topics that are discussed on ITV1 Granada Reports are less likely to apply to those communities than the mainly rural considerations affecting Cumbria and southern Scotland that will be aired on ITV1 Border’s Lookaround programme.
If you live in northern Lancashire rail travel and travel on the M6 northbound is relatively uncongested with fewer train stops; thus it takes an hour and a half to drive the 87 miles from Garstang to Gretna Green (right on the Scottish Border) but over one hour and 45 minutes to drive the 85 miles from Garstang to Malpas in south-west Cheshire. Penrith in northern Cumbria is just an hour up the M6 from Garstang and it is quicker to get to than Liverpool. Although ITV1 Border does not cover Lancashire in news-output it provides extensive coverage of places that are just to the north- locations that folk living locally will have strong ties with, the coverage of Lancashire on BBC1 North West Tonight (immediately following ITV1 Border’s Lookaround on weeknights) will complement the extensive coverage of Cumbria on ITV1 Border.
For those of you who do live in South Cumbria but are currently stuck with ITV1 Granada Reports as you default ITV1 Region then boycotting ITV1 Granada in favour of ITV1 Border is clearly a no- brainer (if you don’t have Sky TV you can get ITV Border over the Internet through ITV Hub). If there is a TV Region providing 50 to 60% coverage of your own county you want to be watching it, not the TV Region that never covers your great beautiful county!
For the poor folk who live on the Isle of Man there is no ready alternative to ITV1 Granada Reports or BBC1 North West Tonight, neither of which cover the island except intermittently. However, the You Tube based Isle of Man TV (website here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCIWwfPM2JDFBa_dj3OykOg) does cover the Isle of Man even though it is not a proper Television service. However, unless Manx viewers are willing en-masse to boycott the two main Regional Television News services that are supposed to serve the Isle of Man- and then write to them to explain why they will no longer watch ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight then it is unlikely that the Programmers at either of the two main Regional News services will make any major changes and cover the Isle of Man more. As a country in its own right the Isle of Man should really have its own News service- and by complaining to OFCOM (use this website here for ITV1 Granada Reports: https://ofcomforms.secure.force.com/formentry/SitesFormCSLEStandardsComplaints and here for BBC1 North West Tonight: https://ofcomforms.secure.force.com/formentry/SitesFormBBCIntroductory?complaintType=SitesFormBBCStandardsComplaints ). OFCOM have the power to fine News- programmes that are not keeping within their broadcast licence terms (by not covering areas under their remit) so if enough Manx viewers write to OFCOM they will drop upon the Heads of News at both the main North West and Isle of Man Regional News services from a great height.
Likewise, viewers who live in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire should also get a response if they complain to OFCOM about Regional News coverage of their communities. If you likewise use the appropriate OFCOM Complaints forms (see above) that will lead to programmers at both ITV1 Granada and BBC North West coming under pressure from OFCOM to make improvements to local coverage in the north of their respective transmission areas.