10th August 2021
This evening there were two more news- features about South Cumbria were on BBC North West Tonight– a news-feature about a Kendal-based Indie pop-group and another news- feature about wildlife at Foulney Island- just off the coast near Barrow-in-Furness. There was also a news- feature about the Isle of Man and two extensive news- features concerning Lancashire (Burnley and also Bamber Bridge, just south of Preston). That is close to 50% coverage of Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man which shows that BBC North West provides a more geographic spread of coverage across North West England than ITV Granada does- and the fact that there are potential 200,000 Cumbrian viewers in the BBC North West transmission area and also that BBC North West is competing directly with ITV Border Lookaround for half of the potential Cumbrian viewers of BBC North West Tonight might have something to do with it! ITV Granada has less pressure to please Cumbrian viewers as it’s transmission area does not extend so far into Cumbria. ITV Granada has just half the Cumbria- based viewers in it’s transmission area that BBC North West does, and naturally, if ITV Granada is the default ITV Region the default is not- by definition- ITV Border (although that need not stop viewers in those parts of South Cumbria or even in North Lancashire from getting ITV Border News programming).
The geographical profile of viewers in a TV Region will pressurise the News Programmers to cover the most favoured areas as well as those with a higher population. Accordingly, it means that BBC North West is going to be rather more inclined to cover Cumbria than ITV Granada- and it also covers Lancashire better. Last night, BBC North West Tonight featured the proposed coal-mine to be built near Whitehaven in West Cumbria (some 15 miles north of the transmission boundary) because BBC North West Programmers considered that potentially 200,000 Cumbrians in the north of the BBC North West transmission area might be interested in it because it is about Cumbria: Crucially the news- feature on the proposed Whitehaven coal-mine was within 30 miles of Millom, Ravenglass and Bootle (all within the BBC North West transmission area) where employment prospects would conceivably be transformed by the new mine, and BBC North West Tonight were right to cover it.
Thus, all things considered, it means that BBC North West Tonight provides more local and geographic- all round coverage for viewers who live in Lancashire and South Cumbria than ITV Granada Reports does. So, if you live in Lancashire you should watch BBC North West Tonight because that will provide you with more all- round local news-coverage. However, if you live in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire you should watch ITV Border’s Lookaround in addition to (or even instead of) BBC North West Tonight because it provides 50% coverage of Cumbria consistently. It remains the case, especially in view of the fact that there are periods of time when not even BBC North West cover Cumbria, that Programmers at BBC North West (as well as at ITV Granada) need to feel the pressure of northern competition from as many viewers as is practically possible. This will keep Regional News -providers clear that they need to earn the loyalty of their Cumbrian and North Lancastrian viewers by providing geographic- appropriate Regional News coverage.