North West Coverage of Her Majesty’s Death and the local impact.

16th September 2022

Dear Readers

This last week has been one of great loss to this nation- and locally. Queen Elizabeth II has been a source of immense pride and stability. The Queen’s selfless service and Christian faith has helped to keep Britain together and provided a sense of security through some enormous social changes. No-one under the age of 70, that’s over 80% of the population, has known a Britain without this wonderful steadfast Christian Matriarch as the Head of State. Her Majesty’s loss has taken that away, and brought an enormous outpouring of grief, not least in North West England and on the Isle of Man.

VIEW FROM THE A66 AT PENRITH. PHOTO TAKEN ON 14TH SEPTEMBER 2022. A BEREAVED FATHER FROM PENRITH REFLECTED ON THE DEATH OF HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN, RELATING IT TO THE LOSS OF HIS DAUGHTER TO SUICIDE IN A WALK THROUGH THE SCOTTISH BORDERS AND CUMBRIA WITH TWO OTHER BEREAVED FATHERS. THIS WAS FEATURED ON ITV BORDER’S LOOKAROUND THIS EVENING.

Both National and Regional Television have, rightly, given a lot of sympathetic coverage to Her Majesty’s passing and have included coverage celebrating her long life. There has been coverage of her visits to North West England and the travel plans of folk from the Region going down to see The Queen’s Lying in State in London. Certainly ITV Granada Reports covered several Merseyside people who are queuing to see Her Majesty The Queen Lying in State, just one mention for a Barrow-in-Furness man. BBC North West Tonight’s coverage of Her Majesty’s passing has also, rightly, been extensive. For viewers of Regional TV who live in Greater Manchester and Merseyside one cannot fault it.

Viewers in northern and central Cumbria also enjoyed even more sympathetic and extensive coverage on ITV Border Lookaround. No less than seven news-items featured Cumbria (that’s over 70% of the total coverage) and five of these Cumbrian news-items covered travel to Her Majesty’s Lying in State, school-children learning about The Queen’s death and dealing with the bereavement and the related issue of loss through suicide and how three fathers who lost family members this way identify with the loss of The Queen. The Queen’s historic visits to Cumbria- to Appleby and to a Paper Mill at Burneside, near Kendal were also featured.

Unfortunately, over 100,000 South Cumbrians live in the ITV Granada transmission area by default and many of those folk cannot easily get ITV Border Lookaround. Most people, at a time of such huge loss and change would wish to draw near to family and friends in their area, and with their own- and nearby- communities. The most northerly item of news in ITV Granada Reports featured Blackpool so, at a time of great national loss, viewers across a large area of northern North West England did not get coverage of their local area- and how folk there were impacted. The coverage from ITV Border Lookaround shows how deeply Cumbrian communities have been hit by Her Majesty’s death: It is a shame that in much of South Cumbria, viewers can only get the Regional news showing the sadness and grief from places that are 100 miles away rather than in their own county. North Lancastrians too, who have closer affiliation to Cumbria than to Greater Manchester/ Merseyside, would probably prefer coverage of the Cumbrian aftermath of Her Majesty The Queen’s passing to the excessive Merseyside coverage of recent days- and a bit more North Lancashire coverage.

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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