This Evening, BBC1 North West Tonight covered North West England- Properly.

19th December 2022

Dear Readers

This Website campaigns for better and more geographic- appropriate coverage for viewers of Regional TV who live in more northerly parts of North West England, that is in Cumbria and northern Lancashire: It is often the case that both BBC1 North West Tonight and, especially ITV1 Granada Reports struggle to cover happenings north of Preston and are very Greater Manchester and Merseyside dominated. ITV1 Granada Reports has not covered Cumbria for weeks!

However, it is BBC1 North West Tonight that does provide a pleasant surprise for viewers from time to time by covering the full geographical spread of North West England in it’s output. Tonight, 19th December 2022, there were no less than three news-features concerning Cumbria, two about Barrow-in-Furness (one of which was about BAE Systems providing extra high-skilled jobs for the town) and the third was about the legacy of a Springer spaniel called Max -from Keswick- who passed away earlier this year. Major fundraising efforts associated with this dog (who became famousduring the Covid 19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021) has raised money to support Great North Air Ambulance- a vital resource for reaching folk who suffer serious or life-threatening injuries in those parts of Cumbria that are otherwise inaccessible to road- based ambulances (i.e., the Lakeland fells). A further two news- features covered Lancashire, there was something for Manchester, an outdoor Christmas special for an impoverished community in Bootle, Merseyside, and the problem of closing Post Offices in Crewe in the south of Cheshire.

In short, the entirety of North West England was covered. This is not something that happens very often, but when Roger Johnson covers all parts of North West England from the northern Lake District to South Cheshire with such thoroughness, and when programmers for BBC1 North West Tonight decide to devote 40 to 50% of coverage to Cumbria and Lancashire, whilst still providing good coverage to the urban south of North West England they deserve praise. They prove that it is possible to ensure that viewers from Millom to Malpas, and from Tebay to Tarporley are happy with their BBC1 North West Tonight because they are all getting geographic-appropriate local and regional news-coverage.

Unfortunately, it must be said, nights like this with a good spread of news- coverage across North West England from BBC1 North West Tonight don’t come around that frequently, and one cannot ever imagine ITV1 Granada Reports providing three news- reports about Cumbria in their bulletins. However, when it does happen, it is a noteworthy event and this Website will always note it happening, if only to make clear to BBC1 and ITV1 in the North West- and to viewers- that if there’s the will, Regional TV producers can find a way to produce Regional TV that satisfies all viewers from the Lakes to Cheshire.

In fact, so good was BBC1 North West Tonight’s coverage of Cumbria this evening, that viewers in South Cumbria might have been better- advised not to switch over to ITV1 Border’s Lookaround– which devoted most of it’s coverage to Doddie Weir’s funeral: He was a famous rugby league player who first played for a local rugby team up at Melrose in the Scottish Borders, and later for Newcastle Falcon’s (hence his fame) and he died at the age of just 52 from Motor Neurone disease. Certainly this was a sad day for folk living in the Scottish Borders, and for rugby fans locally. This meant that, unusually, Cumbrian viewers got less coverage than they might normally have got from ITV1 Border’s Lookaround– but even then there were still four news- features, mainly about the north of the county.

The fact that it is so noteworthy to point out that viewers of Regional TV might have been better watching BBC1 North West Tonight for local news just serves to illustrate that it should not be some amazing noteworthy event: BBC1 North West Tonight should provide good, effective local all-round news-coverage on a daily basis to the extent that it should never be necessary for viewers living close to the Lancashire- Cumbria boundary to switch over to a Regional TV News-service set up (ostensibly) to cover locations close to the Scottish Border in order to get better local news-coverage. Alas, that remains to be usually the case!

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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