7th June 2021
This evening BBC1 North West Tonight devoted close to 50% of its coverage to Cumbria, Lancashire and the Isle of Man only, which is has not done for a while. Roger Johnson was- as is normally the case- cheerful and outgoing as the main news- presenter and he engaged with the viewers as (of course) did Owain Wyn Evans, the Weather Presenter- in an animal sanctuary on The Wirral! The BBC Regional News programme for North West England and the Isle of Man covered much more of a geographical spread across North West England and provided geographic-appropriate news coverage: It is something that BBC North West might agree to do on a more permanent basis if they came to an agreement with ITV1 Granada- whereby ITV Granada is left to focus on the urban areas with BBC1 North West covering much more of the provincial North West of England and the Isle of Man. This is something I have suggested that BBC North West (whose viewers extend deeper into Cumbria) and ITV1 Granada could agree together to do in a previous article (see here: https://northwestisnorthwest.org/2020/12/03/collaboration-between-itv-granada-reports-and-bbc-north-west-tonight-could-mean-all-parts-of-north-west-england-gaining-better-local-coverage/).
Tonight provided an illustration of the difference between ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight: That the overall news- content is a little further north (and extends, on average 20 to 25 miles further north) in BBC North West Tonight than in ITV1 Granada Reports. Tonight there were two news- features about Cumbria- the proposal for a new car- park for tourists near Catbells hill (near Keswick) and the landlord forcing the closure of South Lakes Safari Zoo (near Ulverston). There was also extensive coverage of Lancashire,- of the ongoing rise in new-variant Covid-19 cases in east Lancashire, EU born folk living in Preston having to apply for leave to remain in Britain, Morecambe Football Club (although this hardly counts as “news”) and there was also coverage of the problem of drugs getting into the Isle of Man. There was a good spread of north-to-south coverage right across North West England which is what it should be for anyone living northwards of the M62 Corridor.
By way of contrast, one cannot imagine ITV1 Granada Reports devoting 50% of its air-time to Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man and it is abundantly clear when one compares the two main North West Regional Television News- services which ones cover the geographical North West of England more rather than being almost totally- confined to the metropolitan centres of Manchester and Liverpool. That it not to say that BBC North West Tonight is ideal for folk living in Lancashire and South Cumbria, as there are several non- Cumbrian and non- Isle of Man weeks during the year when BBC1 North West Tonight does not cover Cumbria or the Isle of Man, or both. That said, you don’t go weeks on end without any coverage north of Preston, as has been known with ITV1 Granada Reports.
Over a long period of time, BBC1 North West Tonight does cover considerably more of Cumbria and Lancashire in news- output than ITV1 Granada Reports, thus it is safe to say that if you want more local and all- round geographic- appropriate news coverage you should avoid ITV1 Granada Reports and watch BBC1 North West Tonight.
Since BBC North West and ITV Granada are the two main choices of Regional Television on offer for viewers from the Cheshire/ Shropshire border to just south of Kendal (and on the Isle of Man), viewers have to choose which Regional News service is most appropriate. Viewers in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire should stick with ITV1 Granada Reports which covers those areas heavily, viewers north of the M62 Corridor should watch BBC1 North West Tonight as that is more likely to cover areas further north whilst still maintaining a lot of coverage of the main urban centres of Manchester and Liverpool.
That said, once one gets as far north as Lancaster not even BBC1 North West Tonight provides geographic- appropriate news much of the time (good nights like this evening’s programme excepted). It is here where the dual approach of writing to the BBC North West programmers to explain that you are not happy with the Regional News coverage (i.e., because they seldom cover what’s happening to the north of your community) and then telling them you are trying to get ITV1 Border, which covers Cumbria extremely well.
If you live in North Lancashire, ITV1 Granada Reports seldom has anything really local and BBC1 North West Tonight is always better. However a combination of ITV1 Border’s flagship Lookaround programme (which has 50% or more of Cumbrian news) and BBC1 North West Tonight (which always has something about Lancashire, and often something about Cumbria too) will provide the best local service for places where all northern Lancashire and much of South Cumbria is within 30 minutes’ travel time and where locations that can be reached within the hour (by car or train) extend from Carlisle and the Scottish Border to North Manchester. It would be better if BBC1 North West left ITV Granada to provide the local news for the metropolitan south of the Region whilst improving the service for viewers in Lancashire, South Cumbria and the Isle of Man with a full geographic sweep from Cheshire to the Scottish Border. Then those viewers in North Lancashire and the parts of South Cumbria stuck with ITV Granada as their default ITV Region would not actually need to fiddle about with their tellys to try and pick up ITV Border to find out what is happening just northward of them!