BBC North West Tonight covers northern North West England better than ITV1 Granada Reports

7th June 2021

Dear Readers

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:

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!

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.

2 thoughts on “BBC North West Tonight covers northern North West England better than ITV1 Granada Reports

  1. in isle of man BBC North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports are not good covers isle of man manx radio or Energy FM and 3FM and online Media and isle of man on YouTube and others more big in isle of man of news then BBC North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports

    1. I agree the Isle of Man is covered terribly by both BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports. The solution that is most likely to bring about a re-think at BBC North West and ITV Granada is for large numbers of folk on the Isle of Man to boycott both the BBC and ITV, watch Isle of Man TV (even though this is You Tube) and then to write in to BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports to explain why they are doing this. Manx viewers do not have a real Television alternative that provides local news, unlike viewers in South Cumbria who could switch over to ITV Border.

      If Manx viewers really want to make an impact they could write to BBC North West Tonight to state that they are getting rid of their televisions so that they no longer have to pay £157.50 a year to subsidise the BBC- that viewers will live-stream what they need off their computers. If every Manx household did this the BBC would lose over £5 million annually- so the BBC in the North West could be persuaded that it is in their interests to provide a Regional News opt-out for the Isle of Man like for the Channel Islands (which might cost £3 million tops). The question is, how many Manx viewers could be persuaded to give up their TV’s to stop paying the TV Licence fee in order to make the strong point that Regional News coverage is unacceptable?

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