DUSK NEAR MALLERSTANG, JUST SOUTH OF KIRKBY STEPHEN, CUMBRIA. (AUGUST 2020)
18th July 2021
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 to northern Cumbria: This Regional News programme 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 that are 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.