21st January 2022
Sometimes, the ability to watch and compare different Regional Television News- services- and to compare coverage of specific areas of northern North West England helps to clarify things. Indeed, if viewers can do this if they have Internet- and can get adjacent Regional Television News services to the ones which they are supposed to get. As far as those viewers in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire, whose default Regional TV News- services are ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight, are concerned they would be pleasantly surprised if they could watch ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround programme. If viewers compared ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround with the output from the two mainstream Regional News- services that are supposed to represent North West England they would often find that ITV1 Border produced rather more local and geographic- apropriate content than either BBC1 North West Tonight or ITV1 Granada Reports.
That was particularly true this evening, Friday 21st January 2022, when BBC1 North West Tonight neither covered Cumbria, the Isle of Man or Lancashire in it’s news-coverage- it was all about Greater Manchester or the Liverpool City Region. The only time either part of Cumbria or Lancashire were mentioned was in the weather-forecast when there was a picture of Elterwater, in the Lake District and a picture of near Rivington in (South) Lancashire. Keswick was also shown as one of the places in the weather-forecast, so BBC1 North West Tonight had Keswick- just to the north of the BBC North West’s transmission area but still, nonetheless in Cumbria- in the weather-forecast to try and pacify those viewers of BBC1 North West Tonight who live in Cumbria. But, alas there was no actual news about Cumbria at all- were those viewers supposed to be satisfied with Cumbrian places just getting a five-second mention at the end of the Regional News programme?!
However, it was altogether different for viewers of ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround on the evening of 21st January 2022, where they could watch this programme: No fewer than six out of the ten news-items which were about happenings in Cumbria (excluding the Sports coverage, which most folk would not consider news, but which also covered Carlisle United Football Club’s progress in the season). One of the news-items mentioned the Bowland Fells in Lancashire, because a man from Penrith tragically lost his life after a bridge collapsed. Three men from Lancashire have been arrested on manslaughter charges in connection with the bridge collapsing. It’s very rare that ITV1 Border’s Lookaround will cover happenings in Lancashire more than either BBC1 North West Tonight or ITV1 Granada Reports, but it does happen!
This is all relevant to the lives of viewers who live north of Preston: Folk are mainly interested in what happens within 30 minutes’ dravel time of where they live but they also want to know about happenings up to an hour’s travel time distant in their Regional News bulletins. Funnily enough, folk watch the Local News- a main motivation for watching BBC1 North West Tonight or ITV1 Granada Reports– to get Local News: That is, news about their communities and those within easy reach of them. This means that in northern Lancashire and in South Cumbria, viewers want news about Lancashire and Cumbria, not news about Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region! And the geographic spread of news-coverage in BBC1 North West Tonight, ITV1 Granada Reports and ITV1 Border’s Lookaround was such that, on this evening of 21st January 2022 all communities in North West England north of a line running from Preston to Burnley would have been better served by ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround!
And it is by no means the first time that that has happened. Neither BBC1 North West Tonight or ITV1 Granada Reports got any further north than Wigan in their coverage this evening, but it is often the case that coverage does not get further north than Clitheroe (as was the case last night) or Preston. Meanwhile ITV1 News Border will have at least five news- items about Cumbria, often including one or two about the South Lakes. Northern Lancashire has rather stronger links with Cumbria (particularly South Cumbria)- to where folk will travel for work, go shopping or just go out for the day, rather than Manchester or Liverpool. Northern Lancashire has strong historical links with Cumbria: For instance, the Catholic Church’s Diocese of Lancaster extends from the River Ribble right up to the Scottish Border (here: https://www.lancasterdiocese.org.uk/), so it includes the northern half of Lancashire and all of Cumbria.
That being so, it is clear that there is a strong case that northern Lancashire along with the parts of South Cumbria that- by default- get ITV1 Granada Reports not ITV1 Border’s Lookaround are in the wrong ITV1 Region. Viewers in these areas that may have been misled that the two mainstream North West Regional TV News- services best serve them, that these are the best there is for them and that ITV1 News Border is “Mainly about Scotland” would be pleasantly surprised by the degree of coverage of Cumbria and the Lake District (almost always 50% or more of coverage) that they would find on ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround bulletins. As things stand, for folk who live in Grange-over-Sands or Milnthorpe in South Cumbria, or Carnforth (just over the border into Lancashire) it is patently obvious which Regional News- services would provide more local news: If large numbers of North Lancastrians started to watch ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround , and producers Amy Lea and Ian Payne became aware of it, it is fairly certain that some regular coverage of North Lancashire would appear in ITV1 Border’s Lookaround (probably more than would ever find its way into ITV1 Granada Reports).
Even if ITV1 Border’s Lookaround will never have news about Lancashire (except the rare occasions it currently does in relation to situations affecting Cumbria) the facts are clear: For folk living in Carnforth, Cowan Bridge or Caton-with-Brookhouse in the Lune Valley, two or three news items about South Cumbria and the Eden Valley (typical for ITV1 Border’s Lookaround)- is more local than the odd news-item about (normally South) Lancashire- but often just Manchester and Merseyside (as typically happens on ITV1 Granada Reports)! Even then, major incidents in North Lancashire do still get into ITV1 News Border’s coverage at times (as happened with the bridge collapsing in the Bowland Fells), particularly if these impact on Cumbrian viewers of ITV1 News Border. If viewers in northern Lancashire want to know about Lancashire BBC1 North West Tonight will (usually, but not always) provide that, but ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround would be essential viewing for North Lancastrians wishing to get good coverage of what is happening locally to the north of them. That much can be established.
There is a strong case for viewers in northern Lancashire and South Cumbria to lobby BBC1 North West Tonight to cover the geographical two- thirds of North West England that lies north of Preston better, consistently better. Viewers should then make clear that if this is not done, that the next step will be to contact ITV1 News Border to ask that Northern Lancashire and all of South Cumbria be transferred to the ITV1 Border Region from ITV1 Granada, because North Lancashire has stronger links with the Lakes and Cumbria than with Manchester or Liverpool. If you live in northern Lancashire and South Cumbria and wish to do this you can contact BBC1 North West Tonight at: firstname.lastname@example.org or at: email@example.com. If you wish to contact Amy Lea and Ian Payne, the presenters for Lookaround at ITV1 News Border, in order to request that North Lancastrians can watch ITV1 Border’s Lookaround on their televisions then the e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just complaining about the lack of coverage to programmers at BBC1 North West and ITV1 Granada is unlikely to cut it unless very large numbers of folk write in: However if it is backed up with a credible threat to go elsewhere for one’s local news that will have a greater impact- particularly if you also get friends and family to write in. Programmers care about competition from rivals, and the possibility that they may lose viewers to them.