The Isle of Man should have it’s own TV News- service- with Public funding

22nd November 2022

Dear Readers

One of my followers from the Isle of Man on my Website showed me the following reply he received upon emailing that the Isle of Man’s Chief Minister (the equivalent of the UK’s Prime Minister)- about Public funding to set up a bespoke Isle of Man TV service:

Dear XXX

Thank you for your email.

We are always looking to improve the service that we receive from the BBC. We have in the past sought more coverage from the BBC and believe that this has been delivered to some degree via improved regional website and also via dedicated reporting.

A TV channel for the Isle of Man is not a current priority for this Government. You will be aware of course that we do pay a substantial subvention (£995k) to Manx Radio to maintain the services of a national broadcaster.

Yours sincerely

Chief Minister, Hon. Alfred Cannan, MHK

The Isle of Man has a population of just over 86,000 according to the most recent figures available (details here: https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/isle-of-man-population/), and GDP per capita (from 2019, the latest data) is as high as $83,920 (details here: https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/IMN/isle-of-man/gni-per-capita). In Sterling, assuming average exchange rate of £1.00 being $1.28 in 2019 that would be £65,562. Even allowing for recession and Inflation cutting that by 10% in 2022 that’s still per-capita income of £59,006 (the Isle of Man Pound is pegged to the British Pound): For the Isle of Man as a whole, this means that the Isle of Man is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, though most of the population are much poorer than this.

Now, a new Isle of Man TV-service would cost £10 million a year at a push, which sounds a lot of money but that is less than £120 a year per capita, or just slightly over 0.2% of GDP. Most folk living on the Isle of Man do not earn anything like £59,000 a year, but there is a minority of extremely wealthy individuals who could be required to pay another £5,000 in tax as one- off to help set up the new Isle of Man TV- service to raise a block grant of £50,000,000. If the Manx Government did not want to tap the wealthy -for fear of capital flight- they could borrow this money- which works out at just 1% of GDP for one year only. Since the Isle of Man has very low government debt it could afford it as a one- off (refer to article here: https://www.gov.im/media/1373037/moodys-isle-of-man-credit-opinion-report-may-2021.pdf).

Alternatively, a half-way house of tapping the wealthy for just £2,500 and raising 0.5% in debt (both as a one-off) is scarcely going to cause an exodus of wealth from the Isle of Man. The Manx government borrowed £400 million to invest in infrastructure projects in 2021 (i.e. eight times as much as to set up and run a Manx TV service for five years), so the excuse that they can’t borrow the money- in order to keep debt low- does not wash (details here of the Manx Government borrowing money: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-isle-of-man-58543924).

This £50,000,000 would make the new Manx TV- service self-funding for five years: Legislation could be passed to ensure that the money was only used for Manx-only News, Sport and Documentaries and to provide legal protections to ensure a future Government could not take the money away if the news- service broadcast anything critical of the Manx Government. Legislation could also be passed to stop the new Manx TV service wasting the money and not providing a bespoke Manx news- service. In addition, the Manx TV service should be allowed to have some subscription charge (capped at £40 per household) and allowed some advertising slots (only between programmes), and business- sponsoring of programming to raise the money needed to make the new Isle of Man TV- service funding over the longer-term. The Isle of Man Government would still have very low debt levels, a fraction of what the UK has compared to GDP

Other small island countries in the North Atlantic, like the Faroe Islands, have their own national TV service in spite of the country being poorer with bow lower population and less gross national income per head of population. Details about the Faroe Islands own TV News- service are here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kringvarp_F%C3%B8roya, and it provides news- reports in English as well as in Faroese. According to the latest statistics the population of the Faroe Islands was just over 49,000 in 2022 (https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/faeroe-islands-population/).

Returning, therefore to the reply that my follower on this Website received from The Chief Minister, Hon. Alfred Cannan, MHK it indicates that the Manx Government, the Government of one of the richest small nations in the World in terms of GDP is happy for viewers to get a scant 5% of coverage off the BBC “local” news broadcast to the Isle of Man, ditto from ITV1 Granada Reports. The Manx Government is OK about the Isle of Man being part of a huge BBC Super-Region- stretching to the North Sea Coast of East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire for the “Local slant” (yes, that’s how the BBC describe it!) -on national issues in a documentary series called We Are England. Skegness, on the Lincolnshire coast. It is 283 miles from Ramsey, in the north of the Isle of Man- to Skegness, on the Lincolnshire coast by road and ferry- a trip that would take over eight hours in good weather! Yet both Ramsey and Skegness have been put in the same BBC1 Super-Region for the We Are England documentaries!!

Why, also should Manx viewers be subject to a documentary called We Are England– as well as being told it’s local anyway? The Isle of Man is another country, albeit a Crown Dependency of the UK. But it’s not England! Yet, the Manx government seems to be okay with the Manx citizens under it’s care being (effectively) sidelined and ignored by programming from another country because it has “other priorities”! Folk living on the Isle of Man need to wise up, they should be up in arms at this, especially when the governments of much poorer small nations make the effort to ensure their country has a national news- service that serves their people!

If you live on the Isle of Man I would not advise just sending an e-mail to the Chief Minister, Hon. Alfred Cannan, MHK: This is shocking given the Chief Minister’s reply to a Manx voter! That £995,000 spent subsidising radio would be better put towards setting up a Manx TV service that has pictures and visial footage and maps of places, which you cannot get from radio. Write a letter, marked FAO Chief Minister, The Hon. Alfred Cannan, MHK and affixed URGENT. Make it very clear that you consider the Zero Public funding for setting up a Manx-only TV service to be an affront to Manx citizens (who democratically elected his government)- when they are forced to watch BBC1/ ITV1 “local news” about Manchester/ Cheshire up to 150 miles away by road, and BBC “local” documentaries- with the title of another country- and about places up to 283 miles away- should Manx viewers want to watch local news and documentaries! In fact, do not consider writing such a letter alone, get your family and friends to write to Hon. Alfred Cannan, MHK too. Point out that you know that the uber-rich are taxed lightly and that Government debt is low- that the Government could find the money to set up a Manx TV- service if there was the will to do so!

It does beg the question as to why the Isle of Man government does not seem to want a bespoke Manx TV-service providing Manx-only news and documentaries: After all, they could afford it to raise the funds to get it going and it would benefit their electorate greatly, for it is certain that viewers cannot be happy one iota with the output they get from BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports, let alone a “Local” documentary series called We Are England talking about Hull or Lincolnshire!! One might wonder if the real reason is that Hon. Members of the House of Keys fear the greater scrutiny that they would undoubtedly get if there was a bespoke, independent Manx TV service providing news and documentaries about the Isle of Man?

To write to the Chief Minister, the Hon. Alfred Cannan MHK and send a letter by post the details are:

Chief Minister

Hon. Alfred Cannan, MHK

Office of the Chief Minister

Third Floor

Government Office

Bucks Road

DOUGLAS

IM1 3PN

In the meantime, this Website which campaigns for better Regional TV for the Isle of Man, as well as for Lancashire and South Cumbria in North West England, will continue to draw attention to what viewers on the Isle of Man get in terms of their national (as well as local) broadcast representation, or rather what they don’t get! National and TV News- reporting about happenings which is relevant to viewers- it is a Public service, just as Libraries and bin-collections are. People are not represented, their interests are not championed and they cannot make informed choices if they don’t have good-quality local news-coverage. Folk living on the Isle of Man should be outside the House of Keys with their banners: It is bad that the Manx Government cannot use any of that small country’s not-insigificant financial-resources to enable people there to get news about their own country! Of course, £995,000 spent on radio is better than nothing but it would be better put to setting up a Manx TV service- maybe local businesses and a cheap subscription can fund the rest.

Finally, if you live on the Isle of Man who may or may not be aware of You Tube based Isle of Man TV: Whilst not a TV-service in the conventional sense, you can watch it on the Internet from this website address https://www.youtube.com/c/IsleofManTV. That does, at least, you can get some form of bespoke Manx news-coverage though not through relaxing in front of the TV. And folk without a computer with Internet would not be able to watch it anyway! However, if you can get the You Tube- based Isle of Man TV you can boycott BBC1 North West Tonight, ITV1 Granada Reports and, above all, that BBC1 “Local” TV documentary series called We Are England. If you plan to do that, do drop the North West England Regional TV News-services a line at granada.reports@itv.com and, for BBC1 North West Tonight, email nwt@bbc.co.uk. Maybe, just maybe, that will lead to either BBC1 North West Tonight or ITV1 Granada Reports providing an opt-out in their programming for the Isle of Man, because what they don’t want is to lose viewers.

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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