On the shorter version of ITV1 Border Lookaround on Friday- Most of the News was about locations Within an Hour’s Drive of far North Lancashire.

4th December 2022

Dear Readers

Viewers of mainstream North West England Regional TV who reside in communities straddling the Lancashire- Cumbria boundary, who are rather sick of Manchester and Liverpool- centric coverage of BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports (a programme which has not really covered Cumbria since the summer!) can take heart. Other adjacent Regional TV News- services seem to provide more geographic- appropriate news-coverage, even though one is not “supposed” to watch them because it is not the TV Region your community has been put in!

The shortened version of ITV1 Border’s Lookaround, lasting just 15 minutes (because of the World Cup meaning disrupted schedules) is illustrative. ITV1 Border, as it’s name suggests serves communities close to (and astride) the Scottish Border although in practice, because of the population distribution across it’s transmission area, Cumbria gets some 50% or more of total coverage and south-west Scotland gets typically 30%. West and north-west Northumberland and the Scottish Borders typcally get about 20% coverage. Thus ITV1 Border’s Lookaround mainly covers northern North West England and southern South West Scotland, rather than Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. That’s especially so, because even when parts of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders are covered it is often the south-west ends of these large counties (within fifty miles of Carlisle) that are covered, not the North East/ Scottish Borders area adjoining the North Sea that gets covered.

Tonight’s ITV1 Border Lookaround was no exception. Six non-Sport news-items featured in the program, presented by the wonderful Ian Payne tonight and listed alongside them are the fastest journey times- by car- from Carnforth, in northernmost Lancashire. In brackets are distances in miles from Carnforth to loctions featured on ITV1 Border’s Lookaround on the evening of Friday 2nd December 2022:

  1. Carlisle. Christmas Market. 1 hour and 2 minutes by car (61 miles)
  2. Haltwhistle, Northumberland. Building fire. 1 hour and 23 minutes by car (80 miles)
  3. Carlisle. News-report on Family Courts being made open to reporters. 1 hour and 2 minutes by car (61 miles).
  4. Workington, Cumbria. Anti-social behaviour by kids. 1 hour and 20 minutes by car (79 miles).
  5. Moniaive, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Community Warm Hubs. Just 2 hours and 1 minute by car (111 miles).
  6. Troutbeck, nr. Penrith, Cumbria. Recycling Christmas trees. Just 49 minutes by car (50 miles).

Carnforth folk might want to take a look at that list: Half of the news-items covered happenings about an hour’s drive or less from their community and the furthest news item was about something just two hours’ drive away. The second and third- furthest news concerned places no more than eighty miles away (and comfortably less than an hour-and-a-half’s travel time). That is, of places and locations within screaming distance of being close enough to be somewhere really nice to travel to for a day out in the country in fine summer weather: By way of contrast, the journey from Carnforth to central Manchester covers a distance of 61 miles, and it takes one hour and eight minutes by car and to Liverpool City Centre it is 65 miles and the journey by car is 1 hour and 14 minutes. From Carnforth to The Wirral it is nearly 73 miles and it would take an hour and 24 minutes by car.

Viewers of Regional TV who live in Lancaster might want to note that a direct train journey from Lancaster to Carlisle (when trains are running, and they are not too expensive if booked in advance!) covering distance of 66 miles takes just 55 minutes. If there are direct trains, it takes an hour and three minutes to travel the 53 miles from Lancaster to Manchester, but travelling to Manchester by train often involves a change at Preston, so the journey typically takes an hour and a half.

This is of direct relevance of viewers of ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight who live in the small towns and villages close to the Cumbria- Lancashire boundary that will find, at least in terms of travel by car, that the locations and places covered in ITV1 Border’s Lookaroundas a whole– tend to be about places that are certainly more accessible than much of what is covered in ITV1 Granada Reports– a programme which is especially Greater Manchester/ Merseyside/ The Wirral- heavy in terms of coverage. Sure, programmers for Granada Reports will say “But ITV Border Does Not Cover Lancashire, and There’s A Lot of Scottish Coverage!”: They would put that slant on it because they don’t want to lose viewers, the same viewers in North Lancashire and the parts of South Cumbria that get ITV1 Granada programming- which they have effectively ignored for years: Programmers at ITV1 Granada Reports have effectively pushed aside the interests of Northern North West England communities by adpoting this Policy with their Regional News- programming: We Cannot Cover North Lancashire and Cumbria Much: Most of Our Viewers- who live in Greater Manchester and Merseyside- Won’t Like It!

So we can turn the arguments that ITV1 Granada Reports might employ on their heads with some facts:

  1. ITV1 Granada Reports devote about 15 to 20% coverage to Lancashire, most of this does not get North of Preston. ITV Border’s Lookaround will often cover the Lake District, with two or more items of news-coverage. This tends to be about places within an hour’s drive of North Lancashire.
  2. The coverage of southern Scotland on ITV1 Border Lookaround, which is normally less than 50% of the total bulletin- is typically devoted to Dumfries and Galloway (i.e., the first county one comes to after crossing the Scottish Border just north of Carlisle) or the south-west end of the Scottish Borders. If Northumberland is covered, it is often places like Haltwhistle or along Hadrians Wall in the south-west of the county. Many of the places that are covered are quicker to get to from northernmost Lancashire than much of Cheshire, or (occasionally) the Isle of Man that is just sometimes covered in ITV1 Granada Reports. ITV1 Granada Reports sometimes covers the Buxton area of north-west Derbyshire, which is 87 miles from Carnforth by car- involving a drive taking one hour and 43 minutes. It is little further, just 94 miles, from Carnforth to Dumfries in south-west Scotland (and that involves a shorter drive of one hour and 34 minutes along less-congested roads). The areas around Dumfries, Annan and Lockerbie (further south and east- and thus nearer to Carnforth) account for much or most of ITV1 Border’s Scottish news-coverage.
  3. The Carlisle area- and towns and villages nearby- account for typically two or three news- items in ITV1 Border’s Lookaround. Carlisle is clearly more accessible to North Lancashire than the central Manchester/ Liverpool areas that account for much of ITV1 Granada Reports‘ coverage.
  4. ITV1 Border’s Lookaround, which caters for a very rural transmission area has news-features that cover rural issues (like farming and tourism): These will have more salience with viewers living in rural North Lancashire than the metropolitan/ urban-dominated output from ITV1 Granada Reports.

These facts pertain to viewers who live near Lancaster or in the lower Lune Valley, just to the east, certainly ten to 15 miles further north from Lancaster, in villages like Tunstall, Arkholme, and Cowan Bridge the case for switching over to ITV1 Border and watching Lookaround, will be even more compelling. What right have ITV.Plc to try and make viewers watch the Regional TV news for the TV Region they have been lumped in with, and not another that might be more appropriate for them? Happily, most locations along the Lancashire/ Cumbria boundary can indeed receive ITV1 Border’s Lookaround by just swivelling their aerials round to point North, as they can then get their TV signal from the Kendal Fell transmitter that carries both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Border’s Lookaround. That is a much better combination of Regional TV News- services to watch, especially as BBC1 North West Tonight covers places northwards of Preston a bit better than ITV1 Granada Reports: That said, BBC1 North West Tonight will often have spells of a week or more during which Cumbria is not covered at all, despite the programme being broadcast to all of South Cumbria.

Viewers who live near the Cumbria- Lancashire boundary who watch ITV1 Border’s Lookaround at 6.pm then BBC1 North West Tonight at 6.30 pm will typically net themselves three news-features about South Cumbria and northern Lancashire (i.e. within 30 minutes drive, so local news by any definition), and a further three or four news items about South Lancashire/ Wigan and northern Cumbria, up nearer Carlisle (from Lookaround). They may also get coverage of the odd happening at the western edge of the Yorkshire Dales (more likely to come from ITV1 Border’s Lookaround). On the other hand, if viewers in places like Carnforth, Silverdale and Tunstall stick with ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight from the Lancaster transmitter, there will be duplication (with both programmes covering some of the same news-events) and you will typically only get news about three different happenings within an hour’s drive of your home and one would typically get just one or two about what is happening within 30 minutes’ drive.

It follows, therefore, that viewers who live in northernmost Lancashire would double the amount of Immediate Local (i.e., within 30 minutes drive) and Regionally Local (up to an hour’s travel time away) Regional News-coverage that they get by watching ITV1 Border’s Lookaround then BBC1 North West Tonight rather than just watching ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight! This is probably not something that programmers for ITV1 Granada Reports will want their most northerly viewers (who live in North Lancashire and South Cumbria) to know! But this Website will help spread the message: This will be as part of helping to put pressure on Regional TV producers for North West England to provide much more opt-out or bespoke Regional TV News- programing for the benefit of those 750,000 potential viewers of Regional TV who live North of Preston who currently get a rather poor deal!

If you really wish to spur programmers at ITV1 Granada Reports into action with a little pressure and you have made the decision to watch ITV1 Border’s Lookaround, why not drop ITV Border’s main News-anchor Ian Payne an email at amyandian@itv.com? Let Mr Payne know how refreshing you find it to get more local and relevant news. If you do this, be sure to C.c. in ITV1 Granada Reports into the email you send: The email is granada.reports@itv.com! Get your local friends 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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