22nd June 2022
If viewers in northern North West England, particularly those who live in the extreme North of Lancashire and in South Cumbria have any doubts about the geographical- appropriateness (or otherwise) of the flagship Regional News programme from ITV Border, namely Lookaround, then tonight ought to dispel such concerns! Not only did the news-programme feature six news-reports about Cumbria, including one which mentioned Cumbria in the context of folk having access/ ability to use computers and go onto the Internet across rural parts of North West England. Moreover, the study into what is called “Digital Poverty” was commissioned by Lancaster University, which the news-reporters on ITV Border Lookaround were keen to point out! So the profile of Lancaster University was raised by ITV Border Lookaround.
In addition to the news-reports about Cumbria, ITV Border Lookaround returned to Burton in Lonsdale, only just on the North Yorkshire side of the Lancashire- North Yorkshire border, and about five miles from the Cumbrian border. ITV Border Lookaround pointed out the identities of the two people killed in the helecopter crash on the outskirts of that village.
Of course, ITV Border Lookaround had four further news-reports covering southern Scotland, three of these concerned the Dumfries area: Dumfries is, as one may point out, 95 miles north of Carnforth by car, whilst Carnforth to Malpas- in the very south of Cheshire (ITV GranadaReports-land) is 97 miles and considerably slower to get to. But most of the coverage from ITV Border Lookaround concerned Cumbria (i.e., on Carnforth’s doorstep)- as is the case on most nights. And Burton-in-Lonsdale, which featured in ITV Border Lookaround tonight (22nd June 2022) is only twelve miles to the east of Carnforth.
By way of contrast, BBC1 North West Tonight had no news-reports about Cumbria at all this evening, although there were three news-features about north-west Lancashire: Blackpool featured twice in the news-programme and Rossall Point, on the Coast near Fleetwood featured too. Yet the Lancaster University study of “Digital Poverty” in rural North West England was not mentioned, neither was the situation near Burton-in-Lonsdale covered (although, to be fair, this was covered on BBC1 North West Tonight last night). However, ITV Border Lookaround also covered the Burton-in-Lonsdale situation last night plus another six news-features about Cumbria (one of which was an extensive piece about the premises of a charity helping the disabled being vandalised in both Kendal and Barrow-in-Furness).
ITV Border Lookaround has also mentioned significant developments in Lancashire as/ when programmers have felt these have a bearing on their viewers in Cumbria. Just the other day it ran coverage of the M6 northbound being shut between Preston and Lancaster, because programmers felt this could affect the travel plans of viewers in Cumbria who normally watch ITV Border’s bulletins.
Viewers who live in North Lancashire or the parts of South Cumbria that receive both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports by default have for years been persuaded that these programmes are the most appropriate for their local communities, that because they live in North West England an hour’s drive or a bit more south of the Scottish Border that they should watch BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports to get the best local news-coverage.
However, it is clear to anyone who watches ITV Granada Reports how Greater-Manchester- Liverpool centric that Regional News programme is: Tonight, seven news-items concerned Merseyside or Cheshire- central South Lancashire was covered twice and no coverage got north of Preston! Often, Lancashire is scarecely mentioned at all. Even BBC1 North West Tonight struggles to get North of Preston at times, even though it covers Lancashire rather better than ITV Granada Reports.
It should, therefore, be clear from viewing the Regional News- programmes that serve all different parts of North West England this week (commencing 20th June 2022) which are the best Regional TV News- services are for different areas: It is very clear that even though only the central and northern parts of Cumbria- including almost all the Lake District National Park area- get ITV1 Border Lookaround by default that the areas more geographically and topically suited to ITV Border Lookaround extend a bit further south than ITV.Plc would be happy to admit! If you live in Carnforth, or in Hornby in the Lune Valley of North Lancashire, it is very clear that over 80% of what is on ITV1 Granada Reports is over an hour’s drive away. However ITV Border Lookaround had a news-report about a place roughly ten miles away (eastwards) from rural North Lancashire, often covers the Kendal area extensively and, just this evening, featured a study made at Lancaster University.
Certainly, it is very clear that for almost one million folk who live north of Preston and in South Cumbria, that the best combination of Regional News-services to get maximum all-round local coverage of places within an hour’s travel time will not be ITV Granada Reports folowed by BBC1 North West Tonight, since both Regional News-programmes often duplicate news-coverage, and both will often have a moratorium on news-coverage north of Preston! The better combination would be ITV Border Lookaround followed by BBC1 North West Tonight, because in the first you get local coverage (sometimes remarkably local) to the north of where you live then two or three news-items about Lancashire in the latter, most of which will be locally south of where you live. You will also get coverage of major happenings in Greater Manchester and Merseyside from BBC1 North West Tonight, but you really don’t want to hear about them twice!
Sure, if you live in Garstang or Fleetwood, news about Stranraer or Galashiels on ITV Border Lookaround will not be local, (though the news may still be topically local as Stranraer is a sea-side town bordering the Irish Sea like Fleetwood); however neither is Port Sunlight on The Wirral local to Fleetwood (and Port Sunlight featured so much in ITV Granada Reports this evening). What surely matters is getting topically-relevant news and a higher proportion of news being about happenings within an hour’s travel time of where you live (beyond which travel times, news is not local by any definition)! If you live in Garstang, Carnforth, or Hornby in the Lune Valley, a good local and Regional News-service will be one that covers happenings to the north of where you live as well as to the south.
Unfortunately, a good local and Regional North West Regional News-service tailored to viewers in places like Carnforth, Garstang, Hornby, Barrow-in-Furness, Millom or Fleetwood does not really exist. This is the reason why this Website came to be, to campaign for a more tailored geographic-appropriate Regional News-service for viewers in northern North West England! However, part of what will put pressure on Regional TV News- providers to provide such a Regional News-service will be significant numbers of viewers shopping around and swivelling their aerials northwards to find more geographic-appropriate news: To that end, if enough viewers of Regional Television in places like Carnforth, Garstang, Morecambe or Barrow-in-Furness started watching ITV1 Border Lookaround it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that programmers at ITV Granada Reports and also BBC1 North West Tonight would notice- and take steps to adjust their output to retain those viewers.
For viewers to make the switch, viewers will need to become aware of the facts, of which Regional TV News- services cover the local area and which cover places nearby or a bit further afield that folk like to frequent. Furthermore, communities in North Lancashire have a stronger affinity with Cumbria and the western Yorkshire Dales (ITV Border Lookaround have covered both this week), than the North Lancashire communities have affinity with Greater Manchester or Merseyside (areas that are 80% or more covered in ITV Granada Reports). If folk get their Lancashire news from BBC1 North West Tonight, or even just from BBC Radio Lancashire which then is appropriate for a wider-but-still-local perspective for folk living in the Lune Valley or the Wyre, both predominantly rural areas? Is it going to be ITV Border Lookaround with extensive coverage of Cumbria, and with almost all coverage concerning rural areas or the urban/ metropolitan news-based ITV Granada Reports with 80% coverage over an hour’s travel time to the south?
In the meantime, this Website will continue illustrating the facts, showing the geographical areas covered by ITV1 Border Lookaround and comparing it with the geographical coverage of ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight, as I have done this week. When this gets enough exposure and folk living in the affected communities sandwiched in between Kendal and Preston and north along the South Cumbrian coast as far as Millom- investigate for themselves, they will find out which Regional TV News-services fulfil their needs best and start watching them!