North Lancastrians: Switching to ITV1 Border Lookaround is a No-brainer!

24th October 2022

Dear Readers

This evening, on watching both ITV1 Granada Reports and ITV1 Border’s Lookaround via the respective online websites one sees very clearly how much ITV1 Granada Reports focusses on Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire to the exclusion of Lancashire and South Cumbria. In terms of actual news that was not Sports- coverage there were five news- items, one of which was coverage of how The Right Hon. Rishi Sunak becoming Prime Minister would affect the region which two areas- Congleton in South Cheshire and Huyton in Merseyside focussed on. Of the remainder The Wirral got two items of coverage, Trafford got one and a racism incident at Blackpool Football Club was the sole bit of news for Lancashire viewers. This being Monday, Sports took up ten minutes of the coverage with the main focus being on Manchester City FC, Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs. Barrow-in-Furness did at least get a five-second mention but only in terms of its football club!

Switching over to ITV Border Lookaround, there was the Conservative Leadership contest with voters in Penrith sharing their views in the report, whilst the Dumfrieshire and Annandale MP and Roxburgh and Selkirk MP (just north of the Scottish Border) giving their views. Of the six other news- features on this evening’s Lookaround were rising Covid-19 cases in hospitals across Lancashire and South Cumbria, a feature on poverty in South Cumbria, Cleator Moor in West Cumbria featured- with a community still seeking redress for the deaths of local folk in an oil rig disaster in 1980, and (of course) guilty verdicts at the conclusion of a murder trial in Carlisle was the headline news. The other news-item was of Barnacle geese arriving on the Solway Coast of Dumfries and Galloway having migrated south from the Scandianavian Arctic. Sport took up about eight minutes with Carlisle United Football Club featuring heavily.

Now, this tale of two ITV1 Regions’ News- Programmes, which cover two transmission areas- one north of the Lancashire- Cumbria border and one south of it, and the Programmers would seem to have rather different attitudes to viewers who live in North Lancashire and South Cumbria: ITV1 Border’s Lookaround had two of it’s seven news-items about South Cumbria with one of them loking at rising Covid-19 cases across hospitals across Lancashire and South Cumbria for the benefit of ITV1 Border viewers in South Cumbria, those who can readily get ITV1 Border that is. However, programmers at ITV1 Granada Reports, which is transmitted to 100,000 potential viewers in South Cumbria and almost one million Lancastrian viewers who live North of the Ribble, think a brief five-second mention of Barrow-in-Furness and a report about Blackpool FC is a sufficient sop to their viewers who live North of Preston to retain their loyalty. Yes Manchester City FC, Liverpool FC and Tranmere Rovers can take up at least five minutes of the programme, 80% of the actual news is south of the M62 but the ITV1 Granada Reports‘ programmers may as well, in effect, say to North Lancastrians “Be grateful that we mentioned your football club!”. That is the impression given, whether intended or not.

What evidence do viewers in communities around Lancaster, Carnforth and the Lune Valley need to persuade them to drop ITV1 Granada Reports which almost never covers their communities and places nearby effectively, and where programmers seem not even to care what happens North of Preston? Not for the first time we have ITV1 Border Lookaround covering local issues that directly impact on North Lancastrians. It is not ITV1 Granada Reports that has advised North Lancastrians to take precautions if they visit their local hospital because of rising Covid-19 cases, but ITV1 Border Lookaround, the Regional News- programme of which it is received wisdom amongst Lancastrians is “News Mainly about Scotland”! Tonight, on ITV1 Border’s Lookaround there was also an extensive piece about poverty just over the county- boundary in the South Lakes (i.e., local news). And of the five remaining news-features on ITV1 Border’s Lookaround three were exclusively about Cumbria, the other featured the views of voters in Penrith. The remaining news-item about barnacle geese, was officially about Dumfries and Galloway, but it was focussed on the Solway Firth: And the eastern end of the Solway Firth is an hour’s drive up the M6 from Lancaster! Most of what featured on ITV1 Granada Reports happened rather more than an hour’s drive south of Lancaster.

Given that over 50% of the news- coverage on ITV1 Border Lookaround is about Cumbria, with a bit of Lancashire mentioned in context for ITV1 Border viewers in South Cumbria- less than 20% of total coverage is about the Scottish Borders areas up near Kelso, Jedburgh, Selkirk and Duns. The centre of gravity of the areas covered over a long period of time on ITV1 Border Lookaround is really about ten miles west of Carlisle so this Regional News- programme really doubles up as the Regional TV News for northern North West England- with some overlap coverage across the Scottish Border for the benefit of viewers in North Cumbria. ITV1 Granada Reports, on the other hand, almost exclusively covers the southern third of geographical North West England!

With all that in mind, viewers of Regional TV who live in North Lancashire need to ask themselves whether they live in the northern half of North West England or the southern half of North West England. Do they wish to watch a Regional News- programme with coverage fairly uniformly spread across the northern half of the English North West, or do viewers stick with one that covers the southern third of North West England almost exclusively, the middle 20% rarely and the northern half of North West England virtually never? Is Lancaster closer to the Scottish Border, or the Welsh Border? The Scottish Border at Gretna is 76 miles from Lancaster and the Welsh Border west of Chester is 81 miles from Lancaster, and it takes rather longer to get to the latter because of congestion and the lack of direct motorway and rail routes!

Once viewers who live North of Preston decide which half of North West England they live in they are welcome to switch to ITV Border’s Lookaround to get rather more geographic- local or relevant content whilst looking at Lancs Live or watching That’s TV Lancashire (Freeview Channel 7, 6.pm week-days- website here http://www.thats.tv/lancashire/) for the Lancashire news. For those North Lancastrians who live just a bit too far south to get ITV Border’s Lookaround on their televisions (even with the aerial pointed north), this Regional TV news- programme can be watched from the ITV1 Border website (here https://www.itv.com/news/border) about two hours after it airs live, that means it’s available by about 8.30 pm.

It is very much the case that ITV.Plc have lumped you North Lancastrians into the transmission area of a Regional TV News- service of which Programmers seemingly prefer not to cover your communities very much. This is not a state of affairs that you need to put up with one iota! Write in to them, complain and then tell them that you will be boycotting their programme in lieu of ITV1 Border Lookaround: Vote with your tellies, swivel your aerials to point north – and if you cannot do that you can watch ITV1 Border’s Lookaround from the ITV1 Border website. You can even write to Programmers at ITV1 Border to request that Lookaround should be readily available to watch in North Lancashire because you find the programming rather more local than the offerings from ITV1 Granada Reports. The presenters of ITV1 Border’s Lookaround are Amy Lea and Ian Payne and their email address is: amyandian@itv.com. If you and your local friends and family do that, that will really shock Programmers at ITV1 Granada Reports because they will fear losing their northern viewers: It may prompt them to consider covering all of North West England– Properly!

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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