23rd November 2021
It’s been another few days with a marked absence of news-coverage of those parts of North West England north of Preston- both on BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports. The only exception was a report about bird flu near Millom, south-west Cumbria on BBC North West Tonight- yesterday. It is noteworthy that both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports state that five Conservative MPs in the North West voted against the Government’s Social Care amendment (to change the cap on care costs- Clause 49 of the Health and Social Care Bill) yesterday. These will have been the Conservative MPs referred to:
- The Right Hon. Chris Green, MP for Bolton West
- The Right Hon. Esther McVey, MP for Tatton
- The Right Hon. Damien Moore, MP for Southport
- The Right Hon. Christian Wakeford, MP for Bury South
- The Right Hon. William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove
However, there was a sixth Conservative MP, representing a Constituency in North West England who was excluded from that list: The Right. Hon. Mark Jenkinson, the Conservative MP for Workington, who also voted against the amendment to change the cap on social care costs. The Workington constituency is, of course, in West Cumbria and- crucually for the North West Regional News broadcasters- just north of their transmission areas. So, what happens there is- by their definition- not “What happens in North West England”!! Try telling that to folk who live in Windermere, or Millom or even Carnforth- who will clearly have a different perception of what is North West England than folk who live in Marple or Macclesfield- one that is certainly more geographically North West England rather than one that centres on Manchester/ Liverpool/ Cheshire and South Lancashire.
For viewers who live north of Preston, but who nevertheless have both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports as their default BBC and ITV Regions there are ways of putting pressure on both the mainstream Regional Television programmers whilst helping yourself to a viable alternative source of more local news-coverage. If you live in that part of South Cumbria or North Lancashire that cannot get ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround through your television- you can watch it from their website with close to 60% coverage of Cumbria over recent days(website here: https://www.itv.com/news/border): That will get you news locally to the north of you. To get more local news just to the south of you if you live in northern Lancashire, rather than mainly sixty miles south of you, then That’s TV Lancashire (6.pm, Freeview Channel 7) will provide ten minutes’ unadulterated news about Lancashire. If you cannot get that on your television, the That’s TV Lancashire Twitter feed will have news-clips full of recent local news-coverage which you can catch up on any time you like (website here: https://twitter.com/thatstvlancs). Then there is also Lancs Live, which has a wealth of up-to-date news about Lancashire, some news-clips- plus the odd feature about Cumbria (so you know what is happening just north of you). The link for this is here: https://www.lancs.live/.
So, if you live in Morecambe, Carnforth or Milnthorpe you can get all the news locally north of you from ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround (the flagship bulletin is on their website about ninety minutes after airing- i.e. just after 8.pm), then you can get That’s TV Lancashire Twitter-feed clips and Lancs Live for the news locally and just to the south of you. Taken together, you will find it much more geographic- relevant coverage than ITV1 Granada Reports followed by BBC1 North West Tonight.
Since both the mainstream Regional TV News- services for North West England are motivated by viewers- and (in the case of ITV1 Granada Reports) advertising revenue they invariably prioritise the more populous areas of Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region and Cheshire in the south of North West England. Thus, the only thing that will make them take notice of more northerly parts of North West England jumped up and said “Oi! I’m leaving you for a News service new- that takes care of my area and the concerns of our communities!”. So do send an email to BBC1 North West Tonight (email address: firstname.lastname@example.org) and ITV1 Granada Reports (email: email@example.com– and C.c. in email for ITV News Border- firstname.lastname@example.org for maximum effect). But don’t just complain that the news-coverage struggles to get North of Preston and seldom covers Cumbria- which is still part of North West England, but also be quite clear that unless there are real improvements to coverage of northern North West England (make clear that this extends north of their transmission boundaries) that you will be seeking to watch ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround (from your computer, if need be) to get news about Cumbria- and That’s TV Lancashire and Lancs Live to get the news locally just to the south. There’s nothing like a bit of competition to shake news-producers out of their complacency.
However, if you think, “Oh, I cant watch ITV News Border as it has news about Scotland in it, which is even less local!” and “Lancs Live and the Twitter Feed of That’s TV Lancashire are not TV News. I cannot watch that!” then the mainstream North West Regional TV News programmers will conclude “We can ignore viewers in North Lancashire. They really have nowhere else to go!” . If that happens, if you don’t Lookaround (as it were) and accept poor and geographically-irrelevant news 80% of the time then the Regional TV News Producers- that are suppose to serve all of North West England- will NEVER really improve their coverage North of Preston.
Indeed, for some-one who lives in Garstang or Heysham, I’d certainly agree that news about Selkirk and Stranraer (which are covered on ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround) is not local to you, but then neither is news about Macclesfield, Crewe or Buxton from ITV1 Granada Reports! ITV1 News Border does cover Cumbria extremely well (usually 50% or more)- most of which is within an hour’s travel time of northern Lancashire and that could be complemented by Lancs Live (which majors on Lancashire), even if it is not exactly TV News. A little short-term sacrifice can pay long-term dividends, and you might even grow to like ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround, which probably covers a lot of those nice places in Cumbria that you like to visit. If enough folk in North Lancashire and South Cumbria realised this, they could force big changes at the Media City (Salford Quays) Headquarters of the main North West Regional Television News- broadcasters. It will take that to make them cover northern North West England better- and the self-sacrifice will have been worth it!
So get e-mailing BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports– and switching around for different local news services to find a more geographic-appropriate mix of news (if you can only get it from your computer, do so). It is indeed Time for Change!