30th October 2021
Last night, and for the second night in a row- BBC1 North West Tonight covered Cumbria extensively with regards to the aftermath of flooding. It was again headline news and- not only that- BBC1 North West Tonight again covered parts of the northern Lake District: The flooding of homes in Cockermouth was covered, as was the fact that Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwentwater joined up to be one big lake as water- levels rose. This coverage of the northern Lakes was for the benefit of BBC1 North West viewers in South Cumbria- so that these viewers get a picture of what is happening across their county. This is commendable!
Since Cumbria is part of the Region of North West England- including the parts north of BBC1 North West’s and ITV1 Granada’s transmission areas- it is also right that BBC1 North West Tonight covers all of Cumbria in news-output, particularly as the name of the flagship BBC Regional News programme suggests it does. And it would be a positive development if the BBC in North West England committed to covering the northern half of North West England more effectively (and on a consistent basis) in future too.
It is clear that BBC1 North West Tonight provides greater exposure of happenings North of Preston than does ITV1 Granada Reports, which is why viewers in North West England who live North of the M62 Corridor would do well to choose BBC1 North West over ITV1 Granada Reports every time. Alas, coverage of Cumbria by BBC1 North West Tonight remains sporadic: You might get a couple of nights with Cumbria being covered (sometimes there may even be two news-items about the county) along with two or three news- features about Lancashire, then you may well get a week when BBC1 North West Tonight don’t get north of Blackpool and the Isle of Man is also not covered.
This is why it is essential that viewers put pressure on the BBC in North West England to improve coverage north of Preston: Writing e-mails complaining about coverage is less likely to be effective than writing a letter– in which you tell BBC North West that you are shopping around to find a more geographic- appropriate Regional TV News service like That’s TV Lancashire (Freeview Channel 7 at 6.pm) and- to get the news north of you- ITV1 News Border Lookaround via their website. Lookaround had no less than six news- features about Cumbria last night, and you can catch up from their website two to 24 hours after the programme airs- from here https://www.itv.com/news/border). You post your letter with a first-class stamp to: BBC North West Tonight, Quay House, BBC Media City UK, Salford Quays, SALFORD. M50 2QH. Letters are more likely to be noticed than an e-mail. Producers at BBC1 North West and ITV1 Granada Reports would also be much more alarmed at the prospect of losing viewers to competition, even though ITV1 News Border is also ITV.Plc- if you have to watch the programme over the Internet ITV.Plc will lose revenue so that is likely to concentrate minds at ITV1 Granada!
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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