27th October 2021
Tonight was perhaps the starkest illustration in a long time how no-one living north of Preston can rely on either the two mainstream North West Regional TV News- bulletins for good all- round local news- coverage that is geographic appropriate. For the first time in quite a while, even Lancashire was hardly covered on BBC1 North West Tonight. And, of course, ITV1 Granada Reports really just had one news-item covering (south-east) Lancashire and one news- item for the Isle of Man. However, Cumbrian viewers were treated to five news-items about Cumbria plus a lovely picture of Haweswater- along with six news-items about southern Scotland- on ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround programme.
This evening was representative of a lot of other nights when BBC1 North West Tonight just does not cover Cumbria at all (about once a month you go a week without any Cumbrian coverage on the programme): This just underscores the point that if you want good all- round local and Regional news-coverage for where you live try and avoid watching ITV1 Granada Reports if you live north of Preston. Try and get ITV1 News Border and Lookaround for coverage of the north of North West England that is north of where you live, then watch BBC1 North West Tonight to get the news locally and to the south of where you live.
If, however, you are a Brexit supporter who lives north of Preston but you cannot stand hearing Scottish news because of the Scots (apparent) support for independence and rejection of Brexit, then you will struggle to find another local news-service that really covers Cumbria well: If that’s you, you will probably not want to watch ITV1 News Border and Lookaround because it has 50% coverage of southern Scotland (even though it does have 50% coverage of Cumbria too). However, I would urge you to give it a try if you want to find out what is happening to the North of you rather than always to the South: Many Scots- especially those who live closer to the Scottish Border and in areas covered by ITV1 News Border- are not pro-independence or anti-Brexit. Also, places like Lockerbie, Moffat and Langholm are picturesque little towns set in beautiful countryside (and, unlike the Lake District is largely without the crowds in the summer months), these places are less than 100 miles north of Lancaster- Lockerbie is just one hour and 15 minutes by train (it takes longer to get to Chester, which is covered by ITV Granada).
There are some semi-viable alternatives for news than ITV News Border’s Lookaround, that is if you don’t mind getting your local news from online video clips: If you can get a clear signal from the Caldbeck transmitter (from ten miles south-southwest of Carlisle) you might be able to pick up That’s TV Cumbria & Border, which airs at 6.pm on week-days on Freeview Channel 8, but only parts of South Cumbria (Sedbergh area) can pick up the signal. Failing that, Cumbria Live (website here: https://www.lancs.live/all-about/cumbria) has quite a wealth of up-to-date Cumbrian news and short clips and Lancs Live has the same wealth of local news about Lancashire (website here: https://www.lancs.live/) and which you might value if you live in Lancashire.
If it is still Regional Television that covers Cumbria but not southern Scotland that you want then, really, the best you will get of a Regional TV News- service that is aired widely- and that can widely be picked up in northern Lancashire or those parts of South Cumbria that cannot get That’s TV Cumbria– is, of course, BBC1 Look North (North East/ Cumbria) if you have Sky TV: It airs on Sky Channel 955, but it will, of course, clash with BBC1 North West Tonight on BBC1. If you have Internet you can also watch BBC1 Look North (North East/ Cumbria) through BBC I-player from the relevant website from two hours to 24 hours after the main evening bulletin has aired (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0070g1d). The North-East/ Cumbria version of BBC1 Look North typically has 15 to 20% coverage of Cumbria and about 5% coverage of the North Yorkshire Dales- i.e., about 25% maximum that is likely to be Regionally Local to a viewer in (say) Carnforth or Hornby in North Lancashire. So, if you watch BBC1 North West Tonight on BBC1 then later BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) on catch- up through BBC I-Player you will net yourself about four news-items from BBC Regional TV News that cover up- to- date happenings within an hour’s drive of your home. However, be warned that about 70% of the news-coverage on BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) will be about Tyneside, Teesside and Wearside- with a bit of rural Northumberland and rural County Durham thrown in- that is North East news, not North West news!
The truth is that only when the mainstream Regional TV News- producers in North West England feel they are really under threat of losing their more northerly viewers to the competition are they likely to put resources into improving Regional News and making it more geographic- appropriate for folk who live in northern Lancashire or South Cumbria. To that end, shopping around and watching alternative Regional News programmes – or combinations of these- to see what provides you with the best all-round local news-coverage- and letting the producers of BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports know you are doing this will reap rewards.
However, if you don’t look around to see what else there is for geographic- appropriate Regional and Local News and think ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight alone (or together) are the best Regional News services on offer then the Programmers- who think that viewers in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire have nowhere else to go – will continue to sideline them: Viewers’ concerns and interests about their communities will continue to be passed over in favour of the more populous southern parts of North West England- particularly as that is where the main studios are based and where the TV Presenters live and work. Regional TV News Producers really do need to feel that viewers of their programmes are willing to shop around, that they could credibly look elsewhere for their Regional/ Local News, otherwise why would the main Regional TV News producers change or adjust their news- output?
However, switching off ITV1 Granada and watching ITV1 News Border (from the Internet if need be- the website is here: https://www.itv.com/news/border) will likely net you seven-sometimes eight- news-items about happenings within an hours’ drive each night if you watch ITV1 News Border Lookaround followed by BBC1 North West Tonight. It is that that will put pressure on the Regional News producers based in Salford Quays to up their game for viewers in northern North West England who are- by default- in both the BBC North West and ITV1 Granada transmission regions. The geographical spread of coverage as was observed tonight (and observed on too many other nights)- mainly along and south of the M62 Corridor on both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports– is unacceptable for viewers who live in the northern half of Lancashire and in South Cumbria: Just writing in and complaining alone will not achieve the desired result- viewers have to demonstrate their unhappiness with the North West Regional News that they receive by demonstrating a willingness to look elsewhere for relevant (and more geographic- appropriate) news- content to put real pressure on Regional news producers. It’s called Market Pressure- and it usually works!
Even if you think ITV1 News Border Lookaround or BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) are a bit of a stretch, just switching off and going to Lancs Live and Cumbria Live will have a similar, though possibly less powerful effect- e-mail BBC1 North West and ITV1 Granada to tell them that’s what you will do. Another good source of online local news for Cumbria is Cumbria Crack (website here: https://cumbriacrack.com/), though there are just articles on the site. But switching over to a different Regional TV Channel is most effective at getting the North West Regional TV producers spooked- because they will see that you are not just having a strop by turning the TV off, but will feel that you are actively rejecting them in lieu of a different Regional TV News service: That is what is going to bring lasting change for viewers of Regional Television in places like Carnforth, Morecambe, Grange-over-Sands and Millom.