Happy New Year and Good News for North Cumbrian Viewers of Regional Television

3rd January 2022

Dear Readers

Firstly, I would like to wish all my regular readers, and others who read the articles on this Website a very happy, prosperous 2022: I hope that this is the year that we achieve a breakthrough for viewers in northern Lancashire, South Cumbria, and the Isle of Man in terms of the geographic appropriateness of Regional News output that viewers in those areas receive. This Website will play a role in shaping the minds of TV News programmers at Media City, Salford with regards to the output received in much of northern North West England and on the Isle of Man.

Today, I would like to discuss some good news, because the most northerly parts of North West England already has good Regional News services. Firstly, ITV1 News Border Lookaround covers Cumbria extremely well and- in the short-term at least- there is no indication that ITV.Plc is going to scale back this flagship 30-minute Regional News programme that just covers Cumbria, southern Scotland and a bit of Northumberland. There is almost never less than 50% coverage of Cumbria in ITV1 News Border programming, which is the default ITV1 Region for central, northern and West Cumbria. Often, there are six in ten (60%) news-items about Cumbria, sometimes more- and this has certainly been the case over Christmas and the New Year.

However, I am aware that some Cumbrian viewers of Regional News do not wish to have Scottish news-items (even though towns like Hawick, Dumfries and Lockerbie are less than an hours drive from Carlisle): This is understandable, even though it means one misses out on some of the best local and Regional News-coverage for a county anywhere in the UK. However, if that is you and you live in northern and West Cumbria there is still Thats TV Cumbria, which airs on Freeview Channel 8 at 6.pm on week-days. This is available for all viewers with direct reception from the Caldbeck transmitter, so that means most of northern and west Cumbria. Now, That`s TV Cumbria is not the best for quality programming but it provides ten minutes of news just about Cumbria.

The alternative Regional TV News provider is BBC1 Look North (North East/ Cumbria version), which is received in northern Cumbria: That programme typically provides 15 to 20% coverage of Cumbria, but 80 to 85% coverage of North East England and North Yorkshire- so that if you live west of Carlisle and the M6 you would not find Look North to be particularly local or relevant to where you live. At least ITV1 News Border recognises that Cumbria is in the North West of England.

At present, viewers in northern and west Cumbria have two choices as to Regional News that is actually relevant and local to communities there. Thats TV Cumbria (link here: http://www.thats.tv/cumbria/) has been around since 2017 and it will (likely) be around for a year or two yet. Thus, for northern Cumbrian viewers who dont like Scottish news because of Nicola Sturgeon, they have that option to watch Cumbrian news without getting news-coverage from over the Scottish Border. However, these viewers might have to get accustomed to ITV1 News Border Lookaround at some point in the future if they wish to continue to enjoy excellent local news-coverage if That`s TV Cumbria goes out of business in future: Either that, or just get news from BBC1 Look North, which has a sparsity of local content for those living in towns such as Workington, Whitehaven or Cockermouth.

Meanwhile, viewers in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire cannot get a direct signal from the Caldbeck transmitter because of the Lakeland fells, so they cannot get That`s TV Cumbria on Freeview Channel 8. Also much of South Cumbria cannot get ITV1 News Border but just ITV1 Granada (which seldom covers Cumbria). South Cumbrian viewers also get BBC1 North West Tonight, which covers Cumbria intermittently rather than every night. Many South Cumbrians therefore have a choice of Regional Television which is much poorer (in terms of what is local) than that enjoyed by viewers just thirty miles further north- at least that is very much so for those without access to Internet from where folk can get ITV1 News Border programming after it has aired live. That is a matter that this Website will campaign to resolve!

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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