Some Cumbrian and North Lancashire coverage on BBC1 North West Tonight, but this needs to happen every night.

14th February 2022

Dear Readers

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:

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!

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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