If you live in Central and Northern Cumbria then ITV1 Border Lookaround should be your Go-To Regional News- Service.

DUSK NEAR MALLERSTANG, JUST SOUTH OF KIRKBY STEPHEN, CUMBRIA (AUGUST 2020)

DUSK NEAR MALLERSTANG, JUST SOUTH OF KIRKBY STEPHEN, CUMBRIA. (AUGUST 2020)

18th July 2021

Dear Readers

If you live central, northern and West Cumbria- that is everywhere from Kendal northwards to the Scottish Border (but with the small exception of Alston Moor in the extreme east of the county) your default ITV1 Region is ITV1 Border- which provides an excellent Local and Regional TV service that provides 50% coverage of Cumbria, sometimes more through ITV1 Border’s flagship Regional News programme Lookaround.

It is a statement of the obvious, but a Local and Regional News service should cover one’s local communities, the news should be about one’s district, one’s county and those areas to which folk might travel on a day out or, on occasion, if they have to visit a major town or city to go shopping or get vital surgery to treat illness. For Cumbrians who watch it, ITV1 Border does this very well- it covers Carlisle, the one- and- only Cumbrian city to which they might need to travel to attend hospital or go shopping. It covers the Lake District, the Cumbrian Pennines and rural southern Scotland including the Scottish Borders to which Cumbrians might venture out on a fine summer’s day like today. ITV1 Border does not cover Tyneside, Teesside, Manchester, or Liverpool- which most Cumbrians seldom (if ever) actually have to travel to: What happens in those places is largely irrelevant to most folk living in the county (being, as they are, two or more hours’ travel time away).

Wherever you live in Cumbria, ITV1 Border’s Lookaround will beat the BBC Regional News Programming every time with regards to local news -coverage. If you live in northern Cumbria, the default BBC Regional News is from BBC1 North East/ Cumbria, and they bring the flagship Regional News Programme Look North at 6.30 pm on weekdays. BBC1 Look North, transmitted to a huge area stretching from York to Berwick upon Tweed east of the Pennines as well as no northern Cumbria will never provide more than 20% coverage of Cumbria (usually Cumbria gets about 15% coverage). Three million people live in the North East of England (plus North Yorkshire) as opposed to just over 300,000 who live in northern and West Cumbria- Programmers in North East England will not dilute coverage for viewers in Tyneside, Teesside, and North Yorkshire so that viewers who make up just a tenth of the transmission area population get excellent coverage.

Of course, if you live close to the county boundaries with Northumberland, County Durham, or North Yorkshire- in places like Brampton, Alston or Brough then BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) will cover areas that you might travel to, commute to, that are across the border and not covered by ITV1 Border Lookaround. However, for folk living west of Carlisle and the M6 it is unlikely that anything not happening in Cumbria or the southern end of the Scottish Borders or extreme western Northumberland (all areas covered by ITV1 Border) will be of concern to you. Thus, for relevant Regional and Local news- coverage stick with ITV1 Border Lookaround.

Viewers in South Cumbria, including the southern half of Copeland borough receive their BBC1 Regional News Programming from BBC1 North West with the flagship Regional News Programme BBC1 North West Tonight aired at 6.30 pm on weekdays. This Regional News Programme will have a news-item about Cumbria (usually just South Cumbria) about once every other day on average- but there are runs of up to a week (usually about once a month) when this Regional news- service does not get north of Preston: During holiday periods and at weekends (when the bulletins are short) coverage north of Preston is also hard to come by. Thus, if you live in that part of Cumbria that is just north of Kendal or north of Millom where you get ITV1 Border as your default ITV1 Region but also get BBC1 North West Tonight you should choose ITV1 Border Lookaround (which provides 50% coverage of Cumbria or more) for your go- to Regional News programming. What happens in Manchester, Merseyside or even South Lancashire is not of great importance to you if you live in Ravenglass, Coniston or Grasmere- but what happens in the Lake District is local and relevant.

Whilst Cumbria is in the North West, and folk in the South of Cumbria may have to- on occasion to visit other parts of North West England- i.e., for major shopping trips or to go to the airport the major urban areas south of Preston are not places folk would venture to out of choice unless they have close relatives living in those areas. As such Cumbrian viewers of Regional Television require a more geographic- appropriate North West flavoured Regional News service, which they can get from ITV1 Border Lookaround which also provides coverage across the Scottish Border into southern Scotland (hence its name- Border).

Viewers in the very south of Cumbria- south of Kendal and south- westwards along the coast to Ulverston and Barrow, then up to Millom do not have the easy option of switching over to ITV1 Border because their default ITV1 Region is ITV1 Granada, which produces the very Greater Manchester/ Merseyside- centric ITV1 Granada Reports: This Regional News service almost never covers Cumbria at all and rarely gets north of Preston and it is (in that sense) even worse for local coverage than BBC1 North West Tonight. Although this part of South Cumbria has stronger links with Lancashire, and thus it makes sense to watch BBC1 North West Tonight (which actually covers Lancashire well) you will not get good coverage of Cumbria from BBC1 North West Tonight, let alone from ITV1 Granada Reports.

Thus, if you live in that part of South Cumbria where your default ITV1 transmission Region is that of ITV1 Granada you should try and tweak your aerial and re-tune your television so that you can pick up ITV1 Border (which covers Cumbria very well). However, if you have Sky TV you can get your Sky Digibox re-programmed with a central Lake District post-code so that your default ITV1 Region becomes ITV1 Border. If you still cannot get ITV1 Border on your TV then you can usually watch it on your computer from the ITV1 Border website (here: https://www.itv.com/news/border)- and you can often watch the evening’s Lookaround programme up to 24 hours after it is aired: ITV1 Border have started putting their Regional News bulletin on the website regularly but they don’t always.

If ITV1 Border’s Lookaround is not available from the website and you have Freeview you can always pick up That’s TV Cumbria (Freeview Channel 8- and link here: http://www.thats.tv/cumbria/): It’s just ten minutes of news at 6.pm and not the best quality news- programming but it is local and it is about Cumbria, not 80% about Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire! And that is what you want if you live in Cumbria.

If viewers in Cumbria switched off BBC1 North West Tonight, BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria broadcast to the north of the county) and- in South Cumbria where they get it also switched off ITV1 Granada Reports and switched en- masse to ITV1 Border Lookaround the Regional News broadcasters that do not see fit to provide good coverage of Cumbria would be compelled to act to stem the loss of these viewers. If Cumbrian viewers then write to BBC1 North West, ITV1 Granada and BBC1 North East/ Cumbria to explain why they are switching to ITV1 Border then the mainstream Regional broadcasters would be forced to take note because the alternative would be a loss of viewers.

The BBC, in particular, needs to realise that for virtually all of Cumbria neither BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) nor BBC1 North West Tonight provides effective or geographic- appropriate news-coverage for their Cumbrian viewers, particularly for those north of Kendal or west of Carlisle and the M6. The only remedy is a separate BBC1 North West Region covering Lancashire and Cumbria, with a separate opt-out for the Isle of Man- plus some overlap coverage north across southern Scotland and eastwards as far as Newcastle.  Failing that BBC1 NE/ Cumbria and BBC1 North West should facilitate a 15 minute opt-out from their bulletins for a localised news-service covering Cumbria and North Lancashire- with some overlap of news-coverage into southern Scotland (with the respective Cumbrian and North Lancashire parts of the BBC North East and BBC North West Regions getting news from the opt-out).

The commercial organisation of ITV.Plc might come to realise that it would hold onto South Cumbrian (and North Lancastrian) viewers better if they receive Regional News programming from the most geographic- appropriate ITV1 Region- and then transfer the South Cumbrian and North Lancashire areas that currently receive ITV1 Granada programming to ITV1 Border: Either that, or it requires ITV1 Granada to provide opt-out geographic- appropriate and local programming for  viewers in the north of the ITV1 Granada transmission area. As a commercial organisation ITV.Plc must be aware of the importance of providing a service pleasing to all of its customers if it is not to lose them to competition.

There are half a million inhabitants who live in Cumbria: If just a proportion of them decided to switch over to watch ITV1 Border Lookaround  the impact on the main Regional TV News services based in the North East of England and in Media City, Salford would be considerable. Such a move would also increase viewer- figures for ITV1 Border, thus helping to protect ITV1 Border from ITV.Plc’s Axe come the next major economic downturn! If you live in Cumbria where you can get ITV1 Border then, as regards ITV1 Border the old maxim “Use It or Lose It” applies.  

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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