Eight News Features about Cumbria on ITV Border Lookaround, these not including sports coverage of Carlisle United and Aspatria Bowling Club.

30th August 2022

Dear Readers

This evening, viewers of ITV1 Border’s Lookaround were treated to no less than EIGHT proper non-sport news-items about Cumbria, the only other non-sport news-item was about a driver from Newcastleton- just over the Scottish Border about 20 miles north of Carlisle (so not a million miles from other parts of northern North West England). The first headline news-item on ITV Border Lookaround was about Kendal, in South Cumbria, and how the oldest pub in the town, Ye Olde Fleece Inn is struggling with the rising costs of fuel combined with a loss of local custom as folk have less money.

Meanwhile ITV Granada Reports‘ did cover Lancaster, in the fact that a teenager getting a kidney transplant at North Manchester Children’s Hospital, but this was the most northerly news- coverage in this flagship Regional TV News-programme. The two other Lancashire news-items covered were the unveiling of a statue of the late comedian Bobby Ball in his home-town of Lytham St.Annes and a group helping families get school uniforms in Burnley. Peel Tower in Ramsbottom, also covered by ITV1 Granada Reports is really in Greater Manchester (albeit only just) so does not count for viewers in northern Lancashire. There was nothing about either Cumbria or the Isle of Man in the new-programme.

However, ITV Granada Reports did cover Lancashire, (the programme often has one or albeit mainly the south of the county, so credit where it is due. But when ITV1 Border Lookaround covers Cumbria extensively and (as yesterday) had no less than four news-items about Kendal -just ten miles north of the Lancashire-Cumbria border (link here: https://northwestisnorthwest.org/2022/08/27/four-news-items-about-kendal-on-itv-border-lookaround-north-lancastrians-would-get-more-local-news-than-from-itv-granada-reports/) it would be wrong to tell viewers who live in places like Carnforth, Bolton-le-Sands, Silverdale, Morecambe, Lancaster or even Garstang or Fleetwood that they must watch ITV Granada Reports on the strength of just a couple of news-features about Lancashire from time to time, when the remaining coverage is not local and they they are denied coverage of happenings just to the north of them, but still local to North Lancastrians.

A good local and Regional News-service provides a high degree of Local news, as the BBC used to advertise as “The News Where You Are” before they switched from the BBC National network to the BBC Regional networks: Folk watch Regional TV primarily to find out what is happening in their area and in surrounding places that they like to visit for work, leisure or to see nearby friends or family. People also expect news about their county and geographical region (a big reason for watching Regional TV News) as important second and third priorities for what they want from news, as these provide news relevant to folk travelling to the big city for a major shopping trip, or on business or going to the airport to go on holiday.

For two nights in a row, ITV Border’s Lookaround (even though it fails North Lancastrians on the second point) clearly scores much better on the first point with regards to the provision of what viewers want most in a Regional TV News-service, which is Local News Coverage. Folk are not that interested in happenings more than an hour’s travel time away any more than if the news is about the other end of the country (that is, unless they have family connections to the area), however if someething significant happens within half an hours’ drive then viewers really want to know about it. If you live in Lancaster, the fact that Lake Windermere is filled with a toxic algae or that well-known pubs in Kendal are liable to shut following rising fuel and electricity costs is something that is more likely to interest you than Peel Tower in Ramsbottom or a school uniform organisation in Burnley, especially if you like a drive in the country on a Sunday followed by Sunday lunch. If you live in Lancaster, Kendal and Windermere are not that far away and it is not beyond the wit of Regional TV News-providers to realise that viewers might be interested in happenings across transmission boundaries if they are local to those areas.

Even on the final significant point of providing Regional TV News, ITV Granada Reports demonstrably fails it’s viewers who live north of Preston in providing relevant English North West Regional TV News. It could be argued that ITV Border Lookaround fail on this score, but for it’s Cumbrian viewers (the majority of the total who watch the programme) it does provide occasional references to the wider English North West, mentioning (for instance) rising Covid-19 cases across Lancashire and Greater Manchester and advising Cumbrians not to travel there in late-summer 2020. Given that ITV Border’s Lookaround is a Regional TV programme for places near the Scottish Border (hence the name, ITV Border!) it is not the main function of its Programmers to provide North West Regional news with a Cumbrian flavour: However, in providing a News-service that is local to Cumbrians, whilst recognising that Cumbria is in northern North West England in its coverage, I would definitely assert that ITV Border Lookaround does much better as a Regional TV News-service for Cumbrians than ITV Granada Reports does for North Lancastrians!

What the news-programmers at ITV1 Granada Reports (and to a lesser extent BBC1 North West Tonight) rather fail to realise is that a viewer in, say, Warrington will have a different perspective of what areas a good North West England Regional TV News- service should cover than a viewer in Carnforth or Kendal will: Viewers in Cheshire would be happy with a North West Region that only goes up to the Lancashire- Cumbria border and that also includes coverage of northern Shropshire and Staffordshire and also north-east Wales but for a viewer on the Lancashire-Cumbria border that would cause uproar! Once you get north of Wigan viewers understand the North West Region as stretching from Cheshire right up to the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle, and indeed many viewers in Cumbria would scarcely consider Cheshire to be in North West England! The fact that Cumbria and northern Lancashire occupy over 60% of the entire land-surface of the geographical English North West (defined as Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside), will weigh heavily in the considerations of more northerly viewers in North West England, as to what makes a good Regional TV News- service.

Local and Regional affiliation is also important: Many who live and work in North Lancashire have more connections with Cumbria- right up to Carlisle- and even with western North Yorkshire than Manchester or Liverpool. If you live in an area, consider the places where the road signs point to: Manchester is not even signposted on the M6 south-bound near Lancaster, but Carlisle is signposted from the M6 just north of Preston! Skipton (North Yorkshire) is signposted from Lancaster, from Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley and from the M6 just south-east of Kendal, Liverpool is signposted from none of these places going south! Yet Lancaster gets ITV Granada Reports with news mainly about Greater Manchester or the Liverpool City Region, viewers there do not get ITV Border’s Lookaround which covers Cumbria extremely well and which occasionally touches the western Yorkshire Dales (as with the light helecopter crash near Burton in Lonsdale this summer).

Upon consideration of all these points, and reinforcing the point made yesterday, it is abundantly clear there are serious short-comings in what ITV Granada Reports provides for viewers who live north of Preston. Whilst this Website would not deny viewers coverage of their own county (Lancastrians get better coverage of Lancashire from BBC North West Tonight), viewers in the North of Lancashire should have it made clear to them that they would get more “local” news, at least about many of the places that they are likely to visit and hold dear, if they can get a ladder, go on to their roof, attach their TV aerial to a long pole fastened to their chimney and make sure the TV aerial points north so that they pick up ITV Border Lookaround from the Kendal transmitter (which also- still- transmits BBC1 North West Tonight). Then you get Cumbrian news at 6.pm from ITV Border’s Lookaround followed- at 6.30 pm by Lancashire and Manchester news from BBC1 North West Tonight: That gives you a better mix of local and all-round Regional coverage than watching ITV1 Granada Reports then BBC North West Tonight from the Lancaster transmitter).

If you do not have a head for heights get some-one who is, who is competent with attaching aerials to tall poles, to then attach to your chimney (if you have one). If you live just that bit too far south to pick up the signal for ITV Border Lookaround (i.e., around Garstang or Fleetwood) you can still watch ITV Border Lookaround once the flagship evening programme is loaded on to the ITV Border website (about two hours after it airs live): Details here: https://www.itv.com/news/border.

What would be nice to happen, as far as this Campaign for better and more geographic-appropriate Local and Regional news for viewers in North Lancashire and South Cumbria is concerned, is for sufficient numbers of viewers in Lancaster, Morecambe, Carnforth, Bolton-le-Sands and surrounding villages to switch over to ITV1 Border Lookaround -so that Regional TV programmers (both for ITV Granada Reports and for ITV Border Lookaround) notice what is happening and take appropriate action: If ITV Border Lookaround starts putting in news-items about North Lancashire in response then word will rapidly get out and there will be a big switching of aerials to point north. It is likely ITV Border will tread carefully for fear of being sued by ITV Granada for “poaching” viewers (even though it is all the one same ITV.Plc!), but ITV Border Lookaround would respond to hundreds of North Lancastrians choosing to watch this news-programme and provide North Lancastrian coverage at times.

Were programmers at ITV1 Granada Reports to then issue a writ, it is unlikely to stand up in Court if the Defence can find North Lancastrian viewers that switched without any enticements because ITV1 Granada Reports provided so little local news! One hopes- and trusts- that ITV.Plc would not do something so eminently self-destructive to its own brand by allowing (or encouraging and funding) one of it’s own TV Regions that ignores its northern viewers to sue the neighbouring ITV Region that provides a very good local news-service- just because it is attracting some of the formers’ viewers as a result!! All of northern North West England from Preston up to the Scottish Border and southern Scotland could then end up losing a good (potential or actual) Local and Regional TV News-service as a consequence: What is certain is that ITV Granada Reports would end up losing 90% of its viewers who live north of the M62 Corridor and thousands others disgusted at it’s actions. The main beneficiary would (likely) be BBC North West Tonight but north of Preston even more viewers would flock to ITV Border Lookaround out of sympathy!

It is to be hoped that the response to a loss of more northerly viewers from ITV Granada Reports (and potential loss of advertising revenue if viewers have to use the ITV Border Website) is that ITV.Plc invest in better Regional TV for northern North West England by creating a new ITV North West and Isle of Man TV Region. This new ITV Region would cover Lancashire, South Cumbria (the parts that cannot easily get ITV Border) and the Isle of Man. The Regional News-programme could be called ITV News North West. Either that, or ITV1 Granada Reports should provide an opt-out for Lancashire, South Cumbria and the Isle of Man.

To conclude, it is patently obvious that ITV Granada is not the most geographic-appropriate ITV1 Region if you live close to the Lancashire-Cumbria border or even up to 25 miles to the south of it. I have watched enough of ITV1 Border Lookaround and ITV Granada Reports over recent months and years to be able to state, categorically, that for anyone living north of Preston then ITV Border Lookaround followed by BBC North West Tonight provides one with better geographic-appropriate all-round Local and Regional News-coverage for one’s community, than just sticking with ITV Granada Reports and BBC North West Tonight (which leaves you getting news mainly or wholly from just one direction and duplicate coverage of the same happenings in Greater Manchester/ Merseyside). Don’t just take my word for it, find out for yourself and tell your local friends and family to do the same.

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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