10th February 2022
This Website discusses the relevance- or otherwise- of Regional Television as received in northern parts of North West England and on the Isle of Man. This Website campaigns for an improvement on local news- coverage for areas that are often overlooked and which receive Local and Regional Television news that is wholly inappropriate for their area. There are areas of northern North West England and far-western North Yorkshire (which cannot really be considered “North West England”) that receive both BBC North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports as their default TV Regional News- programmes. Meanwhile, all of west Cumbria and an area of Cumbria extending some 20 miles south down the M6 receive BBC1 Look North (from the North East of England).
Notwithstanding the big campaign over thirty years ago for North Cumbria to get their BBC Regional TV News from Newcastle-upon-Tyne rather than from Manchester, it is very doubtful that the area around St. Bees Head, the westernmost part of North West England- over 100 miles from Newcastle-upon-Tyne- are happy with 80 to 85% news-coverage about North East England and North Yorkshire. Nowhere that is outside Cumbria is local to westernmost West Cumbria. Also, and places like Shap and Tebay, which are two hours’ drive from any of the main conurbations of North East England but little over an hour up the M6 from Manchester (and less than one hour’s drive from Preston), are actually going to be happier with BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria). Even though central and West Cumbrians like news that is to the north of them that bigs- up their sense of Northern pride, as it were, rather than to the south of them they do want news to be local.
It is, of course, true that BBC1 North West Tonight often does not cover Cumbria at all but will tend to have two or three reports a night about Lancashire. However, it is unlikely that BBC1 North West Tonight would not cover Cumbria for days on end if all areas immediately south of a line from Whitehaven to Shap were returned to the BBC1 North West transmission area, the onus would be on the BBC to justify moving parts of west and central Cumbria back into BBC1 North West’s remit. Yet, I need not elaborate that this is extremely unlikely to happen given the backlash against the BBC when they transferred northern, central and West Cumbria to the BBC North West Region in the 1980’s!! Viewers in West Cumbria and in areas like Shap, Tebay and Keswick will have to help themselves to better all-round local news-coverage and put pressure on the BBC that way.
The obvious alternative Regional TV News for viewers in West and central Cumbria- who object to the 80% North East -flavoured outlook from BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) is to switch over to ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround at 6.pm on week-days: ITV1 Border’s Lookaround typically has over 50% of it’s coverage devoted just to Cumbria, sometimes Cumbrian coverage accounts for two-thirds of this Regional News- programme. The remainder of the coverage is from just over the Scottish Border into Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, which include many locations which are not that far north of places like Shap or Keswick. ITV1 Border Lookaround should be the Regional TV News- programme of choice for Cumbrian viewers, there’s no way that the BBC will give you that degree of local coverage from BBC1 Look North.
However, if mid and West Cumbrians need to find out what is happening a bit further afield, possibly because they travel in relation to work, then it is likely that North West Regional news will be of greater benefit than news about the North East of England. That’s certainly true for Cumbrians who live close to the West Coast Main Line, the M6 and Cumbrian Coast Railway Line- where the main route is north-south. In the north of Cumbria, nearer Carlisle, if folk travel outside the county in relation to work or a day out it is more likely to be to Newcastle upon Tyne, Durham, the Northumberland Coast or- indeed- southern Scotland up to (and including) Edinburgh and Glasgow. South of Penrith and from Whitehaven southwards a commute is likely to be down the M6 to Preston- or even Manchester. A trip to a major hospital for specialist surgery, to the airport to go on holiday is (likewise) most likely to be to Preston, Manchester or even Liverpool anywhere south of a line from Whitehaven to Kirkby Stephen, though Cumbrians tend not to travel to the urban south of North West England out of choice!
Viewers in central and West Cumbria should either just watch ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround or, if they have links with other parts of North West England they should switch over to watch BBC1 North West Tonight to get the wider regional picture, not BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria). If viewers have Sky, they can get BBC1 North West Tonight from Sky EPG Channel Number 978, at 6.30 pm. Alternatively, viewers just outside Keswick and around Tebay can pick up BBC1 North West Tonight on their televisions if they have a clear view to the south (not too far south, mind, because you don’t want to lose ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround and it’s excellent coverage of Cumbria). Thus it might be better to wait until a couple of hours after transmission, then you can pick up BBC1 North West Tonight through BBC I-Player (here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006pfjx). If you live in central or West Cumbria, whether you just switch over to ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround, or try and get BBC1 North West Tonight do drop BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) an e-mail to explain that you are switching channels because a) you believe your part of Cumbria is in North West England and that b) 80 to 85% coverage of North East England is not a good Local/ Regional News- service to where yo u live. The e-mail address for BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) is: email@example.com. A few e-mails like this might be just the shock the BBC needs to realise that passing off news that’s 80% about Tyneside, Teesside and Durham as “Local” for viewers in St. Bees Head, Egremont and Shap just will not do- and that something will have to be done about it to stem the loss of viewers!
Some forty miles south-east of Shap and Tebay- there are also towns and villages that receive both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports, whereby 90% of the news-coverage is about Greater Manchester, Cheshire, the Liverpool City Region, and South Lancashire (only BBC1 North West Tonight has a bit more coverage of Lancashire)! The places in this situation include Ingleton, High Bentham and Clapham in westernmost North Yorkshire (close to the border with northern Lancashire and with Cumbria), Kirkby Lonsdale just over the border into Cumbria. The area affected includes various remote communities in nearby far north-east Lancashire, such as Tunstall, Hornby, Wennington, Slaidburn, Tatham and Cowan Bridge.
For all these areas of far north-east Lancashire, south-eastern most Cumbria and westernmost North Yorkshire neither ITV1 Granada Reports nor BBC1 North West Tonight can in any way be said to provide a reliable Local and Regional News- service appropriate to the area. Folk living in this area of northern England can, if they have a clear view to the north-west, pick up ITV1 News Border on their televisions, so if they point their aerials north-west they would be able to watch ITV1 Border’s Lookaround rather than ITV1 Granada Reports. This area of far north-east Lancashire, south-east Cumbria and far western North Yorkshire is very rural, so the news-coverage from Lookaround (in keeping with ITV1 News Border’s main transmission area) will be rural and will concern rural issues, and that will be much more relevant than urban-news dominated ITV1 Granada Reports.
Contrary to misconceptions that folk living in northern North West England may have been led to believe, ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround is certainly not “Mainly about Scotland”: Typically about 40% of the news will be about southern Scotland, almost invariably Cumbria takes the lions share of the coverage. In any case, south-east Dumfries and Galloway is little more than an hour up the A65 and then M6 from somewhere like Ingleton- certainly no less local in travel time than central Cheshire or the Wirral (which gets extensive coverage on ITV1 Granada Reports). In any case from Ingleton and High Bentham, most of Cumbria- including the Lakes- which accounts for much of the coverage in ITV1 Border’s Lookaround -is rather quicker to get to than is Greater Manchester, Cheshire or the Liverpool City Region that (altogether) accounts for some 80% of coverage in ITV1 Granada Reports. It is worth adding, for the benefit of doubt, that ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround does sometimes have news about happenings at the north-west edge of the Yorkshire Dales, even those just inside North Yorkshire (for instance, this piece about the Ribblehead Viaduct- on the Settle to Carlisle Railway Line- being regenerated: https://www.itv.com/news/border/2020-11-23/ribblehead-viaduct-on-carlisle-to-settle-line-gets-21m-restoration-work). To that end, for folk living at this western edge of the Yorkshire Dales, switching to ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround should be a no- brainer! You get more local news-coverage.
As elsewhere in northern North West England, viewers in those most westerly part of North Yorkshire and far north-east Lancashire can watch ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround from about two hours after it has aired on the ITV1 News Border website (here: https://www.itv.com/news/border/2021-11-22/watch-the-itv-news-border-evening-programme).
Viewers on the Lancashire and South Cumbria side of the border with North Yorkshire will (probably) be content with BBC1 North West Tonight, as that does have some coverage of Lancashire, but it is unacceptable that viewers cannot find out what is happening locally or to the north of them (which is why viewers should watch ITV1 Border’s Lookaround, even as they continue to watch BBC1 North West Tonight). Somewhere like Leck or Tatham fells are over 40 miles north of Preston, and when Preston is sometimes the most northerly news-item aired it is certain that viewers in these areas might want to see if more geographic- appropriate Regional News can be had from elsewhere. Certainly this will be a greater consideration on the North Yorkshire side of the border where, for traditional and historical reasons, viewers may take exception over getting extensive news about Lancashire, and where there will be a greater geographic disconnect to most areas covered in BBC1 North West news- coverage.
There are a couple of options for viewers in westernmost North Yorkshire, especially as that really is not part of North West England! Firstly, viewers can also switch to either BBC1 Look North (Yorkshire), available on Sky TV (EPG Channel No. 976) or BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria), available on Sky TV (EPG Channel No. 975). However, despite having “Yorkshire” in it’s name the BBC1 Yorkshire Regional News has a lot of coverage of Sheffield, Doncaster, Leeds, Pontefract and Huddersfield- plus coverage of northern Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire: All these are areas that are well over an hour’s drive from places like Ingleton or Clapham. Only about 20% is coverage of North Yorkshire, and even some of that- from York or Filey for instance- would not be local. The North East/ Cumbria version of Look North has 15 to 20% coverage of Cumbria plus about 10% coverage of North Yorkshire (often more), including the Yorkshire Dales: Thus BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) will therefore provide more relevant local content to viewers in western North Yorkshire, close to the Cumbrian boundary, that’s despite some 65 to 70% of the news-coverage being about Tyneside, Durham and Teesside, not Cumbria and North Yorkshire.
Another option, in addition to switching over to ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround, will be for viewers to just turn off the BBC1 altogether and get local news from the That’s TV North Yorkshire website (here: http://www.thats.tv/north-yorkshire/). Although the western Yorkshire Dales is a bit too far west for local folk to get That’s TV North Yorkshire on their televisions (at 6.pm on Freeview Channel 7), the website still has all the day’s news about North Yorkshire, with some news-clips to watch. Although not TV, it is at least news about one’s own county, which can be supplemented with ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround to get lots of news about communities not far to the north and north-west. However, if it’s strictly Regional TV one wants to watch, then BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) followed by ITV1 Border’s Lookaround when this has loaded onto the website will provide one with typically three or four news- items of all- round local news- coverage well within an hour’s drive of one’s home, sometimes more.
If you live in far north-east Lancashire, south-east Cumbria and westernmost North Yorkshire- and decide to switch over to ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround and if you feel that BBC1 Look North (NE/Cumbria) or the That’s TV North Yorkshire website is a better alternative to BBC1 North West Tonight do e-mail ITV1 Granada Reports (at email: firstname.lastname@example.org) and BBC1 North West Tonight (at email: email@example.com) to let them know you are changing channels on the grounds that “Cumbria and North Yorkshire is Much More Local to Our Community than Manchester and Liverpool!”). Not only will both BBC1 North West and ITV1 Granada be completely shocked by the threatened loss of viewers, but they would be in no position to argue the case that viewers in any part of North Yorkshire- or indeed in south-east Cumbria should accept a “Local News” service that is 80% about Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City Region and Cheshire!
At the very least there needs to be a discussion about a 15- minute opt-out within BBC1 North West Tonight for South Cumbria and North Lancashire. And, in the case of western North Yorkshire- only a transfer to the BBC1 North East/ Cumbria transmission area will do, with BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) giving greater prominence to coverage of North Yorkshire than they do today. But this will not happen unless viewers write in and complain in the manner suggested. The entire area should also be moved from the ITV1 Granada transmission area to the ITV1 Border transmission area, but unless local viewers find their voices and protest this is unlikely to happen.