Both BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports are Metropolitan- flavoured in their outlook

14th March 2022

Dear Readers

This evening, I wish to touch on something that many viewers of Regional Television who live in North West England , particularly those who live in rural Lancashire or South Cumbria, must observe. It is fairly clear from watching BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports that the programing and content of the coverage is not just heavily concentrated well south of Preston, but the coverage is Metropolitan in outlook, i.e., geared towards urban Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region. This is another reason why the mainstream North West Regional TV News services come across somewhat out- of-touch with more rural parts of North West England, particularly those areas that are North of Preston.

A look at the ITV1 Granada Reports website illustrates this point (website here: Look at the sub-headings next to “Granada” on the light grey background and you will see sub-sections related to “Manchester Arena Attack”, “Hillsborough”, “Clean Air Zone”, “Sport” and “Entertainment”. The “Clean Air Zone” section clearly refers to Greater Manchester, as the Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, has been instrumental in getting one set up. The news- coverage (and the matters covered) speaks well to a school teacher in Manchester or an imam in Hyde; but neither the geographical coverage or the topical content is relvant to a bed-and-breakfast owner in Ambleside, a cattle-mart owner in Lancaster or a farmer on the Lakeland fells!

It means that for the largely-rural locations roughly equi-distant between the mean location of the ITV1 Granada Reports/ BBC1 North West Tonight coverage to the south and the mean location of the ITV1 News Border Lookaround news-coverage- i.e., Lancaster, Garstang, Fleetwood, Clitheroe and the upper Ribble Valley, ITV1 News Border’s Lookaround should be a no- brainer: It covers rural issues like farming and tourism in addition to covering areas that are geographically local to northern Lancashire.

It stands to reason that a hill-farmer in the Bowland Fells would likely find coverage of cold wet spring weather affecting lambs in Cumbria, or higher cattle-sale prices at Carlisle’s Borderway Mart will be of more interest to that farmer and his/ her family than Black Lives Matter marches in Manchester or problems facing Muslim communities in Stockport. Only it’s not just farmers in Cumbria and northern Lancashire, but hotel owners, agricultural suppliers, rural community shops, rural community groups, fishing communities further up the North West coast who are not represented at all well by mainstream Regional Television as it is in North West England.

Rural communities of northern North West England, you have been largely ignored, little covered with your concerns and worries not represented in Regional news bulletins for far too long: Rise up and make yourselves and your communities be heard, and make sure your concerns and issues have representation in the Regional news. And if an adjacent Regional news service would do a better job ask for your area to be able to receive that Regional news-service!

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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