Appleby Horse Fair is back- and much happening there. Not a mention for South Cumbrians stuck with BBC North West and ITV Granada Reports

12th June 2022

Dear Readers

As has been fairly typical of what happens with both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports, a Cumbrian news- drought emanates from both the mainstream Regional TV News- broadcasters for North West England- and it lasts for a week or more! In the previous post (here: https://northwestisnorthwest.org/2022/06/03/pictures-of-north-cumbrian-platinum-jubilee-celebrations/) I mentioned the fact that neither of these two mainstream broadcasters covered the Platinum Jubilee celebrations from anywhere in Cumbria, there are pictures of Platinum Jubilee celebrations near to my home in north-east Cumbria which one can see in this post. This proves that there were celebrations of Her Majesty, the Queen’s 70 years’ reign in Cumbria- but none were covered.

This week saw Appleby Horse Fair get underway. This is the largest gathering of its type for gypsies and Romanys in Europe, thousands of gypsies who live in North West England travel to it and- despite Appleby being in North West England- though in a part of Cumbria some 15 to 20 miles north of BBC North West Tonight’s and ITV1 Granada Reports‘ transmission areas. That, of course, why broadcasters don’t cover it- not even today when Cumbria Police had to be drafted in to prevent a major punch-up! Of course, if it happened in Manchester or Liverpool, it would be the lead story: Indeed, there was plenty of air-time has been given to the big music festival in Manchester- and also the fact that a bit of trouble brewed there on tonight’s short week-end bulletin of BBC1 North West Tonight.

This just serves to illustrate why viewers of Regional TV who live north of Preston might do well to switch over to ITV1 Border Lookaround, if they can rather than continuing with ITV1 Granada Reports. At least ITV Border covers Cumbria extremely well, even though they don’t cover Lancashire the coverage (even allowing for some southern Scottish coverage) is more geographic-appropriate to someone living in (say) Carnforth or Morecambe than the almost-totally Manchester-Liverpool dominated ITV1 Granada Reports. One can still switch over to BBC1 North West Tonight to get Lancashire and Manchester news, but if you live in Lancaster, Morecambe, Carnforth or Garstang and want news about what is happening locally to the north of where you live as well as newsjust south of you then you should swivel your aerial to the north to try and get ITV1 Border Lookaround.

It is unacceptable that viewers who live in northern Lancashire or in South Cumbria do not get news about the northern half of North West England, that is, the half of the North West Region in which they reside. More resources need to be spent on Regional Television in the North West so that viewers who live north of Preston can get a Regional TV news-service that is much more geographic- appropriate than what they currently get. Perhaps the BBC can step up to the plate to provide a more suitably- tailored version of BBC1 North West Tonight so that South Cumbrians do a least get to know what is happening in their part of the world much better than they do now. If not, maybe ITV1 could produce a new ITV1 North West and Isle of Man Regional News- service- or transfer all areas north of Preston into the ITV1 Border Region. Something like this needs to happen because stuff that happens in Kendal, Keswick, Appleby and Barrow-in-Furness is more local (and relevant) to Carnforth or Morecambe viewers than stuff that happens in Burnley, Manchester, Chester or Birkenhead. Since Cumbrian news tends to account for the lion’s share of news-coverage on ITV1 Border Lookaround whilst ITV1 Granada Reports covers Lancashire minimally, it follows that a change of ITV Region would certainly benefit viewers who live north of Preston.

Since neither the BBC or ITV are minded to do anything like this, it will need hundreds of North Lancastrians and South Cumbrians to write to BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports to complain about the geographic-appropriateness, or otherwise, of “local news” coverage whilst voting with their telly’s to move the dial. It may well need the kind of protests such as North Cumbrians protesting against getting BBC North West Tonight 35 years ago (which I have covered here: https://northwestisnorthwest.org/2021/07/11/thirty-years-ago-people-power-changed-regional-tv-in-northern-cumbria-and-it-can-in-northern-lancashire-too/) to make any real impression on BBC1 North West Tonight or ITV1 Granada Reports. That means a bus-load of a hundred (or more) Carnforth or Morecambe folk travelling to Media City to protest and picket outside the offices of ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight with banners stating to the effect of: “Our affiliation is more with Cumbria than Greater Manchester/ Liverpool/ Cheshire….Change our Regional News!”.

This website will encourage viewers who live in South Cumbria and North Lancashire, who are unhappy with their Regional News service, to club together to bring pressure to bear on the two mainstream Regional TV News-services to extend the mean area of geographic news-coverage significantly further north for them. This starts by writing to BBC1 North West Tonight at: nwt@bbc.co.uk and ITV1 Granada Reports at granada.reports@itv.com to complain about local news-coverage: Get your local friends and family members to do this too. Then, if neither the broadcast news-services take your suggestions seriously, you write to your local MP and escalate to OFCOM- getting your local friends to do the same. Then you write again to BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports to explain that, from now on, you will watch ITV1 Border Lookaround (you can do this online if you live just a bit too far south to pick up the signal on your TV), again getting your friends to do the same.

It is wholly fair to point out that, if you live north of Preston, then Appleby Horse Fair, the Kendal Calling festival, or even Solfest up in the north of Cumbria might be of more interest to you or your community than Manchester Music Festival or the Wirral Food Drink and Music festival. Yet because of the BBC and ITV Regions being the way they are, and with North Lancashire in the TV Regions encompassing Manchester, Liverpool and Cheshire- TV Regions whose news-coverage really does not get north of Kendal- it means folk in northern parts of North West England are denied coverage of happenings and events that might be of interest or significance to them. That is not what a good Regional TV News- service should ever do!

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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