14th February 2022
Roger Johnson was back presenting BBC1 North West Tonight, this evening of Monday 14th February 2022- and he brought with him some news- coverage of Cumbria after what must seem to viewers to be a significant absence! This evening, there was a piece on William Wordsworth, featuring Grasmere and also Ullswater- and some lovely daffodils! This was good to see.
The second significant news- feature concerning northern North West England was a Morecambe care-home (The Sands Care Home) and the happy re-union of elderly residents with family members after the restrictions of lockdown. This was a good, detailed news- feature.
It is certainly encouraging to see BBC1 North West Tonight covering Cumbria and North Lancashire in news- output, but this is not something that is done consistently. However, in central and northern Cumbria viewers can watch ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround on their televisions, which this evening (with ten minutes of the bulletin taken up with the week-end’s Sports coverage) still managed four news-items about Cumbria (there was just one specifically about southern Scotland). If it’s Cumbrian news-coverage you want, ITV1 Border’s Lookaround is your go-to Regional TV News bulletin.
Of course, viewers who live in North Lancashire and parts of South Cumbria that cannot switch over to ITV1 News Border to watch Lookaround, because their default ITV1 Regional programme is Granada Reports (which rarely covers Cumbrian issues at all) do not have that luxury! This might not be too bad if BBC1 North West Tonight always had a good news- feature about North Lancashire and another about Cumbria, because that would be a more geographic-appropriate alternative to the always heavily metropolitan-dominated coverage from ITV1 Granada Reports. But that is not so, and there will often be weeks during with neither of the two mainstream North West Regional TV News- services really get north of Preston.
That is, of course, unacceptable for folk living in northern Lancashire or South Cumbria: BBC1 North West Tonight should provide at least two or three news- items a night about areas north of Preston, possibly by making room for such news-coverage by trimming a minute off the Sports coverage (which takes up ten minutes of the programme on Mondays and Fridays!). Sports coverage is not real news, Manchester United and Liverpool Football Club fans can get news about their favourite teams from other sources (like ITV1 Granada Reports!). BBC1 North West Tonight should not offer the same metropolitan coverage as ITV1 Granada Reports because it’s transmission area extends deeper into Cumbria and, also, because the BBC Charter does stipulate that the BBC must provide news-coverage relevant to all parts of the UK: Thus BBC1 North West Tonight should offer something better for viewers in more northerly parts of North West England.
It is possible for viewers to put pressure on both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports not just by complaining to them about the lack of coverage that gets north of Preston, but by trying to get ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround on their televisions. A higher aerial pointed north enables potentially 50,000 extra households in North Lancashire and South Cumbria to watch the programme rather than the default ITV1 Granada Reports: However, if that is not possible and one has a computer with Internet access, ITV1 Border’s Lookaround can be watched from the ITV1 News Border website from about two hours after it is aired live (details here: https://www.itv.com/news/border).
Then, if one decides to watch ITV1 Border’s Lookaround, one should e-mail ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight to explain why one is switching channels: Stating that you are more interested in Cumbrian news than Merseyside/ Manchester news on the grounds that it is “More Local” should convey the message. That, more than anything, will encourage BBC1 North West Tonight programmers really start to take care of their more northerly viewers on a permanent basis, at least if enough viewers start to do this!