13th February 2022
The only “Local” and Rgional TV viewers on the Isle of Man get are ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight: These Regional TV News- services cover North West England, (mainly the southern half of it, mind) and have news coverage that is 70 to 80% about Greater Manchester, Cheshire and the Liverpool and Wirral areas (ITV1 Granada Reports has the higher proportion of coverage of areas along/ south of the M62 Corridor). The Isle of Man is lucky to get just one item of news-coverage on either of the so-called “Local” TV News services, if viewers there get anything!
It is absoluely amazing that there has not been a major out-cry on the Isle of Man about this state of affairs! The Isle of Man is, in fact, a small country in it’s own right in the Irish Sea- from where the nearest part of North West England is a three-hour ferry journey away, the Port of Heysham in North Lancashire is the nearest point- which is over sixty miles from Douglas but further from the rest of the Isle of Man. Most of North West England is near or over 100 miles from Douglas, there is no way that it could be considered “Local”! The Isle of Man has a population of over 85,000 inhabitants, much more than the population of the Faeroe Islands (at just under 49,162 inhabitants in 2022 (https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/faeroe-islands-population/)). The Faeroe Islands, in the North Atlantic has it’s own national TV News- service in it’s own language (details here- Kringvarp Føroya: https://kvf.fo/umkvf/aboutus). Yet the Isle of Man- with almost double the population- has to contend with national news about the UK and “Local” news that is 90 to 95% about North West England!
It is a truly shocking state of affairs: Whilst I do not believe in State intervention in what could be provided by the Private Sector, there is certainly a need for real Government intervention to ensure that a national Manx TV News- service is set up as soon as possible. Ensuring that BBC1 North West Tonight provides an extra news- report about the Isle of Man is not going to cut the mustard: This is about the Isle of Man being a country which is well-off compared to other countries in the World, yet it does not have it’s own TV News- service, and being seemingly unable to find the resources to fund one! The country has a GDP per Capita of just over $94,500 (US dollars), about £70,000 per annum at current exhange rates, according to most recent figures (https://tradingeconomics.com/isle-of-man/gdp-per-capita). Yet Manx viewers of television just pay Britain’s TV License fee of £159.00 per annum- to watch British TV News!
Of course, there are British TV programmes- soaps like ITV1’s Coronation Street -or BBC1 Match of The Day -and it is possible that if Manx viewers stopped paying the British TV License fee that they would lose those services. But Manx viewers are certainly not getting Value-for-Money, and good-quality Regional and Local News is actually a vital Public Service. Folk living on the Isle of Man- a small country in it’s own right- want news about the Isle of Man! They are not really interested in stabbings in Greater Manchester or student protests in Liverpool, because that is not relevant to their day- to- day lives on the Isle of Man.
In no other country in the World do viewers of TV News pay another country to get “Local” TV news about a distant Region in that other country, not their own!! Folk in the Channel Islands do pay the British TV License, but they have their own Regional News service- ITV1 Channel News (here: https://www.itv.com/news/channel). But that is not the case for folk on the Isle of Man where 95% of the “Local” News is about North West England– mostly Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire to be fair.
There are ways for the Manx Government to help bring about a proper Manx TV News- service without tax-payer funds: They could make it ultra-easy for local TV broadcasters to set up a TV- service by allowing lotteries to raise funds for it, by allowing local businesses to give money to it, allowing product- placement and sponsoring of such a news- service. Such a vital Manx news- service could be given Charitable Status so that local folk are encouraged to support it, in view of the fact that the venture might not be profitable.
The Manx Government could- and should- get tough with TV Licensing (based in North East England), and get tough with the BBC- to insist that the BBC set up a new BBC1 Region serving just the Isle of Man as a condition of handing over all License fee funds as before: In short, the Manx Government could get some courage to stand up for Manx viewers of “Local News” and make continued payment of BBC License Fee money contingent upon some of the money handed over by Manx citizens being used to provide a bespoke Manx TV News- service. If the BBC threaten to cut BBC TV News-services to the Isle of Man the Manx Government should threaten to decree that that £159 per annum per Manx household is paid to their own Manx TV Licensing Authority instead. Such a new Manx TV Licensing Authority will certainly be able to use some of that money to negotiate continued watching of ITV programmes, Freeview and- indeed some BBC services anyway. Half of the remainder can be put towards a new Manx TV News service!
It is likely that the BBC, threatened with the loss of almost £8 million from Manx TV License payers at a time of British Government- enforced financial constraint upon the BBC will back down, and explore how to set up a BBC Isle of Man TV service providing Manx- only news. But it is certainly time for the Manx Government to realise how shocking this is, Manx viewers have to scrabble about on You Tube to find the only Manx News service that there is which is, namely, Isle of Man TV: Website link here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCIWwfPM2JDFBa_dj3OykOg.
Certainly, if you live on the Isle of Man and have a computer, with Internet then you should boycott both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports to watch Isle of Man TV. If you do this, be sure to email BBC North West at: firstname.lastname@example.org and ITV1 Granada at: email@example.com to explain why you are getting your own Isle of Man News off You Tube! Tell these Regional TV News programmers that you don’t want your “Local News” to be 95% about another country over three hours away by ferry!
Then you must write a letter to the Chief Minister of the Manx Government, The Honorable Alfred Cannan to explain how intolerable you find getting “Local News” about Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Cheshire is when the Isle of Man is a country in its own right. Demand that he stands up to the BBC and the British TV Licensing Authority to demand the BBC set up a special BBC1 Isle of Man News- service or else lose License Fee money from Manx tax-payers. Demand that he then hold firm in the face of the threatened loss of BBC News- services and promise to set up a separate Manx TV Licensing Authority to use money from Manx TV License- payers to pay for a Manx TV News- service catering for Manx viewers’ needs. Write, don’t just send an e-mail (which can be intercepted by secretaries) and mark your letter URGENT, so that the Chief Minister knows how important this is. The Chief Minister’s details are here:
The Honourable Alfred Cannan
Chief Minister of the Isle of Man
Office of the Chief Minister
Isle of Man