Regional TV in the western Yorkshire Dales and north-east Lancashire

15th August 2021

Last week I discussed the situation with regards to viewers of Regional Television who live in easternmost parts of Greater Manchester and East Lancashire (the link to the article is here: https://northwestisnorthwest.org/2021/08/08/east-lancashire-is-another-part-of-north-west-england-not-served-best-by-north-west-regional-tv/). But there is another part of northern North West England that is close to the north-east edge of the transmission areas for receipt of of both BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports who are less well- served by the main North West Regional Television News- services than are viewers in places like Burnley, Oldham and Rochdale. Of course, viewers further south suffer from the hard transmission border that stops them finding out about happenings in western West Yorkshire or Derbyshire that are still local to them (because there is no overlap zone), but at least Greater Manchester is covered exceptionally well in ITV Granada Reports and both Lancashire and Greater Manchester are covered well in BBC North West Tonight.

The extensive area I want to look at tonight covers those parts of Lancashire close to the North Yorkshire and Cumbrian borders along with the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales which includes the Sedbergh area of South Cumbria and the Ingleton and Settle areas in the south-west corner of of North Yorkshire. This area also includes the market- town of Kirkby Lonsdale which is just inside the south-east corner of Cumbria. Sedbergh gets its default ITV Regional News programming from ITV News Border but gets BBC North West Tonight along with the remainder of this entire area. In Lancashire this includes the Ribble Valley north-eastwards of the village of Whalley and takes in Clitheroe, Dunsop Bridge and the Slaidburn area east of the Trough of Bowland. It also includes Earby and Barnoldswick further to the east (where viewers get the Leeds version of BBC Look North). In north-east Lancashire this area also includes the small towns and villages like Hornby, Caton and Cantsfield in the Lune Valley and the small villages of Leck, Ireby and Cowan Bridge further north.

This area is not an insignificant one, being more than half the size of all of Lancashire- and it is home to over 50,000 inhabitants altogether. Almost all of this area has a rural economy but with rather less tourism than the South Lakes in Cumbria. However, except for the odd feature, like that of farm thefts in the Ribble Valley a fortnight ago (both BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports covered it) the entire area gets little coverage from either BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports. These areas, of course, get no coverage of even quite significant happenings further east towards Skipton or Hawes, in North Yorkshire and coverage northwards into Cumbria is very limited on BBC North West Tonight and practically nonexistent with ITV Granada Reports. Meanwhile the lion’s share of news-coverage concerns Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City region and Cheshire, which are all over an hour’s drive from this large area.

Viewers in Barnoldswick and Colne pick up BBC Look North (Yorkshire/ North Midlands) and ITV Calendar (West Yorkshire- version) where coverage of Sheffield, Doncaster and Worksop would leave viewers similarly cold. However ITV News Calendar (North/ West Yorkshire version) does provide some coverage of West Yorkshire and indeed North Yorkshire- which is more local to Colne and Barnoldswick than either Manchester or Merseyside which both BBC North West and ITV Granada cover heavily (although Manchester is not more than forty miles from this part of Lancashire). A number of these areas cannot actually receive BBC North West Tonight, which covers Lancashire reasonably well and covers Manchester very well and occasionally covers South Cumbria (which is not far from this part of east Lancashire via the A65): As that is the case, then viewers in Barnoldswick and Colne who want to watch it may have to do so from BBC I-Player when it is saved online after being broadcast from their Website (here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006pfjx). If viewers in the area have Sky TV they can also watch BBC North West Tonight live by switching to Channel 958.

It is to be hoped that one day that the BBC and ITV.Plc will sort out some of these anomalies, either by ensuring the Nelson and Barnoldswick areas can at least get BBC North West Tonight or with ITV News Calendar providing overlap coverage into eastern Lancashire (part of which used to be in the West Riding of Yorkshire!).

From Clitheroe northwards and right up to the tiny village of Leck in far north-east Lancashire – as well as eastwards into the North Yorkshire parts of Ribblesdale and the Ingleton area- the default Regional TV News services are both BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports. The more northerly parts of this area are more than an hour’s drive from Manchester, and Liverpool is even further away. Thus, the relevance of the news-coverage from the North West’s two main Regional TV News services is even less than for places further south like Nelson or Barnoldswick (where, ironically, viewers cannot easily pick up the North West Regional TV News services). BBC North West Tonight does provide reasonably good coverage of Lancashire (typically 20 to 25% of all news is coverage of the county), most of which is Regionally Local to far north-east rural Lancashire, the Kirkby Lonsdale and Sedbergh areas of south-east Cumbria and even into westernmost North Yorkshire, but the excessively dominant Manchester- Merseyside dominated coverage of ITV Granada Reports means that local viewers would be better avoiding this altogether.

Now viewers in places like Hornby, Leck, Wennington- in Lancashire, but close to the Cumbria/ North Yorkshire borders, Kirkby Lonsdale as well as the Sedbergh area in south-east Cumbria and particularly communities like Ingleton and Settle over the borer into North Yorkshire will also be interested in happenings further north in Cumbria and eastwards into North Yorkshire- and none of those areas are really covered by the North West Regional TV News broadcasts. However, if any of those areas can get ITV News Border- with it’s flagship Regional News- Programme Lookaround– and a surprising number of places in far north-east Lancashire, south-east Cumbria and the Ingleton area of North Yorkshire can if they pint their aerials north or north-west- then local viewers will get excellent coverage of Cumbria (typically 50%). That will give local viewers them a clear picture of what is happening to the north of where they live, but still within an hour’s drive of their communities. However, this does not address the need for coverage of happenings within an hour’s drive to the east of their homes- i.e. across North Yorkshire.

There is a solution to this problem because there exists a Regional News- service that provides some coverage of Cumbria (not as much as ITV Border’s Lookaround, mind but still about 15%) plus coverage of North Yorkshire (typically about 15%): It is BBC1 Look North (the North East/ Cumbria version). The idea that folk living in Ingleton, at the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales or Hornby, in north-east Lancashire should watch BBC1 Look North (the North East/ Cumbria version) is not as daft as it might first seem because this area is not even a massive distance from parts of North East England either: It is just 50 miles from Hornby, north-east Lancashire to Middleton-in-Teesdale (south-west County Durham) if you drive via the A683 to Kirkby Stephen (Cumbria), the A685 to Brough then from there the B6276 to Middleton-in Teesdale. It is an hour and a half by road and would make for a lovely country drive on a nice sunny day- and rural Teesdale is beautiful any time of year (but without the crowds of the Lake District in summer)! Manchester, by the shortest distance is sixty miles- and it is an hour and twenty minutes by the fastest route- i.e. A683 to Lancaster, M6 to Preston and then M61 to Manchester and it is not as scenic!

The travel time from Hornby, north-east Lancashire to Carlisle is just one hour and ten minutes, and it is 66 miles up the M6 but it takes longer to get to Manchester City Centre by the fastest route (M6 and M61)- travel time of one hour and 17 minutes with a distance of 62 miles: Northern Cumbria is more local to far north-east Lancashire than Greater Manchester! Travelling eastwards, the distance from Hornby to Harrogate, North Yorkshire via the A65 and A59 is 56 miles and the travel time of 1 hour and 24 minutes is comparable with the one hour and 23 minutes to travel by car to Liverpool (a distance of 66 miles from Hornby, Lancs). It is also 65 miles to Darlington, County Durham via the B6255 from Ingleton to Hawes (North Yorks), then A684 to Leyburn and A6108 and the A1 via Richmond and Scotch Corner to Darlington. Much of North Yorkshire and southern County Durham is as much relevant (and local) to rural north-east Lancashire and far south-east Cumbria as is Merseyside!

Thus for viewers in places such as Hornby, Ingleton, High Bentham, Wennington, Kirkby Lonsdale- and and even as far south as Gisburn and Clitheroe they should try to tune into ITV News Border and watch Lookaround at 6.pm, because that provides lots of coverage of Cumbria, although it also covers southern Scotland too: Places like Annan, Langholm and Lockerbie in south-west Scotland are just ninety miles away from Hornby or less (and roughly 90 minutes’ drive)- no less local than Chester which is a similar travel time, so it is not a daft suggestion compared to watching ITV Granada Reports in the round. It is also much more rural-orientated than ITV Granada Reports and therefore the issues covered will be more relevant to the farmers, rural landlords, and village communities in rural north east Lancashire than the metropolitan concerns of central Manchester and the Liverpool City Region. If viewers have to get Sky TV and then put a Windermere Post-code into their Sky Digi-box to this, they can otherwise they can watch ITV News Border Lookaround from the ITV News Border website when the evening programme is uploaded (normally about 8.30 pm). The link to the ITV Border website is here https://www.itv.com/news/border.

Now, BBC North West Tonight would still be the main BBC Regional News Bulletin with a Windermere Post-code in the Sky Digibox, and that will provide viewers in these areas with coverage of Lancashire. However, if one has Internet it is possible to access- via BBC I-Player- BBC1 Look North (North East/ Cumbria version), the website for which is here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0070g1d. If you live in Hornby, or in High Bentham/ Ingleton at the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales you will find that quite consistently BBC Look North (NE/ Cumbria) will provide some 30 to 35% coverage of happenings within an hour’s drive (or otherwise within 50 miles) to the north or the east of where you live. Usually, by about 8.30 pm, the News teams at BBC North/ East Cumbria will have up-loaded the main evening news- bulletin Look North onto the website. If viewers in north-east Lancashire, south- east Cumbria and westernmost North Yorkshire have Sky TV and they wish to watch BBC Look North (NE/ Cumbria) live from their televisions they can do so by selecting Sky Channel 955 (for BBC1 North East and Cumbria). If you live in North Yorkshire you should be able to get- from Freeview Channel 7- That’s TV North Yorkshire which airs at 6.pm on week-days (details here: http://www.thats.tv/north-yorkshire/).

To conclude, however it is clear that Regional Television for those areas of northern north West England close to the edge of the main North West Regional Television transmission areas- away from the urban areas further south that get the main lion’s share of coverage- is unsatisfactory. If rural north-east Lancashire, south-east Cumbria and the western end of the Yorkshire Dales were well- served by Regional Television it would be more localised, with an opt-out for the north of North West England, complete with overlap coverage of northern Cumbria and the western half of the Yorkshire Dales. Viewers in North Yorkshire would, ideally, have their own bespoke Regional News- service dedicated to that very large county. Of course, neither the BBC nor ITV.Plc like spending money so the provision of additional Regional TV services (or opt-outs) is likely to be resisted unless local viewers really make the effort to complain that the news-coverage is not geographic-appropriate- whilst threatening to switch channels. BBC North West Tonight can be e-mailed at nwt@bbc.co.uk whilst ITV Granada Reports can be e-mailed at granada.reports@itv.com.

Furthermore, it would not be impertinent to request that the BBC and ITV.Plc put your community and local area in a more geographic- appropriate TV Region like ITV Border or- if you live in western North Yorkshire that you receive BBC Look North (NE/ Cumbria): That is because places like Settle or Horton-in-Ribblesdale are hardly in North West England but these areas do have strong links across North Yorkshire and with Cumbria (which is not far away). The area around Sedbergh and Dent may also benefit from getting BBC Look North (NE/ Cumbria) rather than BBC North West Tonight, because they are in the Yorkshire Dales, were historically part of Yorkshire and have strong links with North Yorkshire. These are all rural communities so the news that they would get from north of them is more likely to be in-keeping with the day- to- day concerns of hill-farmers, rural pub- owners, land-owners, etc, whilst BBC North West and ITV Granada have a heavily metropolitan slant that is inappropriate for these very rural communities in northern England. The BBC cannot really object to the one- off costs of tweaking some transmitters so that these local areas pick up the signal from Caldbeck in Cumbria, rather than from the main transmitter on Winter Hill, near Bolton.

Published by northwestisnorthwest

I live near Alston in north -east Cumbria (and yes, it is in North West England). I have friends who live in the middle part of North West England - near Lancaster (which is where I went to University and used to live until 14 years ago). 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! 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!!

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