ITV Granada Reports does not serve its viewers who live North of Preston with Geographic- Appropriate Regional News- coverage

6th October 2022

Dear Readers

If the News-feed from the ITV Granada Reports Website is anything to go by it is abundatly clear how little of ITV.Plc’s flagship Regional TV News- service covers areas north of the M62 Corridor. It would appear that Cumbria has not been covered since August, but there was the coverage of the circumstances in which a two-year-old boy lost his life lasy year in Heysham, North Lancashire on ITV Granada Reports in the last week.

Are viewers who live in Heysham, Morecambe, Lancaster, Bolton-le-Sands and Carnforth to be happy and accepting of that? That is, to have a Regional News-service that occasionally covers areas locally, but 70% covers happenings over an hours’ drive to the south whilst never covering significant happenings just thirty miles further north. Viewers in Lancashire can, of course, switch over to watch BBC North West Tonight which covers places north of Preston a bit better (though not greatly so), but that is not the point.

Many years ago, viewers further north, near Carlisle did not like BBC North West Tonight when it was broadcast to northern Cumbria. They could have switched over to Border Television (as it then was) to watch Lookaround (and many did). They were certainly not grateful to get periodic news-reports about Cumbria when 80% of the coverage was about places over an hours’ drive to the south whilst getting no coverage of the places (such as the Tyne Valley of Northumberland) that they liked to visit not far to the east. Hence the huge numbers of complaints and the clamour for northern Cumbria to be returned to BBC Look North (Newcastle) as that programme covered those places. Viewers from Carlisle would not then have taken kindly to being told that “Cumbria is in the North West so watch the North West news. You have to put up with the news from Manchester as that is the Capital of North West England. You can’t watch BBC Look North as that is the North East news- and it has nothing about Carlisle or Cumbria!”.

The truth is that when northern Cumbria was transferred to what is now the BBC North East and Cumbria transmission region BBC Look North did start covering northern Cumbria- and rather better than BBC North West Tonight used to when that was transmitted right up to the Scottish Border. And viewers in Carlisle got news about other areas- such as the Tyne Valley and Newcastle-upon-Tyne that were more geographic-appropriate than news about Manchester, Warrington and Liverpool. Of course, they lost coverage of North Lancashire and gained coverage of North Yorkshire and Teesside, so viewers in North Cumbria lost in some other ways when their BBC Regional news was switched to Newcastle-upon-Tyne: However for viewers of Regional Television in Carlisle and north-east Cumbria the changes were to better geographic-appropriate news-coverage overall, especially as the BBC North East/ Cumbria transmission area has roughly half the population of the BBC North West transmission area when it included all of Cumbria- thus giving North Cumbria a better proportion of coverage.

This brings us back to the coverage North Lancastrians get of their local communities- and their places of interest- from ITV Granada Reports. If the entire area from Garstang and Thornton-Cleveleys (on the Fylde Coast) northwards were transferred out of the ITV Granada transmission region to the ITV Border transmission region it is certain that places like Carnforth, Garstang, Lancaster and Heysham would benefit immeasurably: The entire area would be taken out of an ITV transmission region with a population of almost seven million inhabitants into an ITV transmission region with no more than 1.5 million inhabitants once northern Lancashire is included. ITV Border Lookaround also covers Cumbria very well, most of which is a lot closer (and/ or aesthetically nicer to visit) for North Lancastrians than the often crowded, grimy (and locally violence -ridden) conurbations of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region.

Of course, programmers at ITV Granada Reports might try to discourage North Lancastrians from switching channels on the basis that ITV Border Lookaround has Scottish news-coverage! Actually, only about 45% of the coverage is of southern Scotland (just Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders) and parts of north-west Northumberland, ITV Granada Reports has just as much coverage of Cheshire, the Wirral, north-west Derbyshire and the Isle of Man,- to which it would take at least as long (or longer) to travel to from Lancaster as travelling from Lancaster or Morecambe to Dumfries, Annan, Lockerbie or Hawick (which are arguably nicer places to go to than The Wirral). The distance from Lancaster to Lockerbie is 92 miles and it takes just one hour and 15 minutes to get there on a direct train, this compares with one hour and 27 minutes to travel the 62 miles from Lancaster to Birkenhead by car!

It is clear that North Lancastrians and South Cumbrians who currently get ITV Granada Reports would be much better-served by ITV Border: Its rare for ITV Border Lookaround to provide less than 50% coverage of Cumbria today, often it’s nearer 70% [Infact ITV Border Lookaround cover the Scottish Borders relatively poorly, although the Scottish version of ITV Border carries programmes such as Representing Border and Border Life tailored specifically to viewers in southern Scotland to compensate. Scottish viewers also get BBC Reporting Scotland at the same time as BBC Look North (NE/ Cumbria) and BBC North West Tonight are aired south of the Scottish Border]. What is certain is that if northern Lancashire were transferred to the ITV Border transmission area is that Cumbria and northern Lancashire would account for two-thirds of the coverage on Lookaround, and it is likely that programmers at ITV Border would resurrect the old Selkirk Opt-out to provide more southern Scottish coverage for viewers north of the Border. However, even if this did not happen viewers in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire would almost certainly get- from ITV Border Lookaround– a truly geographic-appropriate Regional News-service tailored for northern North West England- with some coverage of happenings just north of the Scottish Border and in north-west Northumberland thrown in.

This Campaign aims to educate viewers who live in northern north West England that being in the ITV Border transmission region would serve them much better than staying with ITV Granada Reports. Don’t just take my word for it, try watching ITV Border Lookaround from the website (available about two hours after it is aired live here: https://www.itv.com/news/border), and discover how much it covers Cumbria: This means that you will get more coverage of happenings within an hour’s travel time of your home from ITV Border Lookaround than from ITV Granada Reports (even allowing for the odd snippets of news that get just north of Preston on ITV Granada Reports). Whilst ITV Border Lookaround does not cover Lancashire (though it has come very close by covering helecopter crashes at the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales and covering Morecambe Bay NHS Trust on occasion), you will get much better all-round coverage by following up watching ITV Border Lookaround with Lancs Live (full of news about Lancashire, with some news-clips here: https://www.lancs.live/).

Thus, you can boycott both ITV Granada Reports and BBC North West Tonight, putting real pressure on both the mainstream North West Regional Television News-services to up their game for viewers who live north of Preston! You can do that without sacrificing getting local news, in fact you will (likely) get more local news overall. Carlisle folk did not stand for getting BBC North West news mostly about Manchester and Liverpool, with just the odd bit about Cumbria over thirty years ago: So neither should you, if you live North of Preston, stand for a Regional TV News-service that barely gets North of the M62 Corridor whilst virtually ignoring the northern North West of England today! Write in, complain, and demand to be transferred to the ITV Border transmission region for better local and regional news-coverage! Get 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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