7th January 2022
Just two news-items about Lancashire on BBC1 North West Tonight this evening, Friday 7th January. And there was nothing about Cumbria! Mind you, this often happens when the main News- anchor Roger Johnson and Weather-presenter Owain Wyn Evans are away and new metropolitan news-reporters and/ or weather-presenters stand in. Tonight presenting the news on BBC1 North West Tonight was Lorraine Smith and the stand-in weather presenter was Simon King. I don’t know what it is about stand-in presenters, but when they are doing the Regional News on BBC1 North West Tonight places north of Preston or on the Isle of Man really take a back seat!
This evening, there was some coverage of a feature highlighting children’s deaths in Chorley but the northernmost “news” was the excitement of Morecambe Football Club fans travelling to London over the week-end. Morecambe folk should be happy for the coverage, as at least the North Lancashire town received some coverage, but most folk living there would have wanted news about issues affecting them and their day-to-day lives (most of whom are not preoccupied with football!). Travel conditions in northern Lancashire have been tricky of late, with some icy surfaces and (if folk needed to travel North) some roads in Cumbria have been almost impassable. The A592 at Kirkstone Pass was very difficult to navigate earlier today, whilst the A66 east of Brough was closed due to snow and ice early this morning.
In fact, it is South Cumbrian viewers -those who cannot get ITV1 News Border Lookaround on their televisions, and who are thus stuck with the choice of ITV1 Granada Reports or BBC1 North West Tonight– who have a greater right to be thoroughly annoyed at their BBC1 Regional News when they have metropolitan stand-ins. That’s especially when, as was the case tonight, BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria version) covered bird flu near Penrith (after two earlier cases at Aspatria and also Silecroft, near Millom), a Lakeland mountain-rescue dog having an unprecedented start to 2022 and an Ulverston hair-dresser naming his shop with the name given to him by school bullies! BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) is transmitted across North East England and northern Cumbria- but programmers often cover pieces about South Cumbria for the benefit of northern Cumbrian viewers. But the South Cumbrian viewers (the most appropriate audience), who get BBC1 North West Tonight, did not find out about those happenings in South Cumbria that were aired on BBC1 Look North!!
BBC1 North West Tonight will often have a few days in which Cumbrian issues get some coverage, then perhaps nothing for a week: Even northern Lancashire suffered for lack of news-coverage this evening, and it does seem that when the main presenters are on holiday (or it is the holidays or the weekend) that viewers who live North of Preston and on the Isle of Man are acutely short-changed. And when ITV1 Granada Reports are heavily Manchester/ Merseyside dominated all the time that means there are several lengthy periods during the year when Manx, South Cumbrian and North Lancastrian viewers get no representation, no coverage of issues that concern them or their areas from either of the two mainstream Regional Television News-services in North West England.
It is this lack of geographic-appropriate coverage and representation that this Website will help campaign to rectify. At the very least there should be collaboration between BBC1 North West and ITV1 Granada news-programmers to ensure that at least one of them (ideally BBC1 North West) devotes considerable and regular air-time to Cumbrian, North Lancastrian and Manx news-issues so that viewers in the north of the transmission area see that they get effective coverage of their communities and the near-by places they like to visit. A more generous consideration would be for the BBC to find the resources to create a new BBC1 North West Region covering Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man, with an opt-out for the Isle of Man. Alternatively, ITV1 Granada could consider transferring all areas north of Preston (plus the Isle of Man) to ITV1 News Border’s remit. Then ITV1 News Border could fully resurrect seperate southern Scottish/ North Northumberland Regional News-programming so that Cumbria, northern Lancashire, the Isle of Man and westernmost Northumberland get a more bespoke Regional News-service (albeit with some coverage of significant southern Scottish news retained).
None of this is going to happen without South Cumbrian, Manx, and North Lancastrian viewers jumping up and down. So the first port of call is to write to BBC1 North West Tonight at: email@example.com and to ITV1 Granada Reports at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Make it clear that you find the local news-coverage largely irrelevant and metropolitan-dominated for where you live. If this does not yield a satisfactory response you can write to your local MP, details of whom will depend on where in northern North West England you live. See here for further details: https://northwestisnorthwest.org/important-contacts-to-write-to-about-regional-television/. The link here also has contact details for the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport, and to OFCOM (for ITV1 Granada Reports) who will put pressure on the BBC and ITV1 Granada in North West England to improve your local news-coverage.
If you live on the Isle of Man you can write to the Hon. Julie Edge at the Department of Education Sport and Culture (part of the Manx Government)- at this address:
Corporate Services Division
Thie Slieau Whallian
Isle of Man
Or you can send an e-mail from this contact page to the Isle of Man’s Department of Education Sport and Culture here: https://www.gov.im/about-this-site/contact-us/?contactid=1234. Do tell them that the BBC in the North West of England and ITV1 Granada Reports do not cover the Isle of Man at all adequately in view of the fact that it is a small nation in it’s own right in the middle of the Irish Sea (and over three hours by ferry, then train from most of the areas covered on both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports)!
Meanwhile, if you live in northern Lancashire and South Cumbria you could e-mail Amy Lea and Ian Payne who co-present ITV News Border’s Lookaround and say that you would rather get ITV News Border Lookaround “Because our area has more affinity to Cumbria than Manchester/ Liverpool…and I believe that we would get more local coverage from ITV1 News Border than from ITV1 Granada Reports or BBC1 North West Tonight“. Amy Lea can be contacted at: email@example.com and Ian Payne can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also e-mail ITV1 News Border directly at email@example.com. Be sure to also C.c. in e-mail addresses to ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight! A bit of real competition, and the thought they might lose viewers to another more northerly local news-outlet would sharp concentrate minds in the Media City, Salford HQs of both BBC1 North West and ITV1 Granada!