Another Cumbria News-drought from NW Regional TV. It Does Not Have To Be Like This.

9th March 2023

Dear Readers

Viewers of Regional TV who live in northern North West England, that is those who live and work in communities north of Preston, and who can only get BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports, are again suffering from a lack of geographic-appropriate news-coverage, especially of anything important that might be happening northwards of where they live. There has, once more, been a dearth of coverage from north of Preston on both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports. The report on the heavy snow on BBC1 North West Tonight was about Buxton, in Derbyshire! How about the heavy snow closing the A66 in the Cumbrian Pennines, which might be more appropriate to a viewer living in Milnthorpe or Kirkby Lonsdale?

North West Regional TV News-coverage from both mainstream Regional TV News-services serving North West England have covered -extensively- Eurovision in Liverpool, the ongoing inquest into the Manchester Arena bombing (very tragic for the families of the 22 people killed, but this happened almost six years ago now and is not new news- “New”s is the definition of News!), the trial of nurse Lucy Letby from Cheshire, and the ongoing trial concerning the murder of nine year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel from Liverpool. Whilst these news- features concern tragic events, these four or five news-items seem to have dominated the North West Regional TV News agenda for viewers in North West England over the last few weeks: News is by definition about that which is novel to the viewer, i.e., “New”s. Thus it should be fresh, informing one about that which folk might not otherwise know. Moreover, these four or five repeated news-items all concern places along or south of the M62 Corridor!

Viewers who live north of Preston might have been interested to learn about some of the folk killed on the roads in Cumbria recently, or the number of youngsters who have gone missing from towns in West Cumbria or the Barrow-in-Furness area: Fairly recently a 12 year-old boy went missing from Barrow-in-Furness (details here: Also last month a 33 year-old man went missing from Barrow-in-Furness. Was that reported on the Regional TV News, with follow-up coverage?

Viewers of the northern North West, it does not have to be like this and stay like this! The tools to change what Regional TV News that you receive are- collectively- within your grasp! If you live anywhere in North Lancashire or, in what is soon to be Westmorland and Furness county, you can write to broadcasters to say “This Is Not Good Enough!“. You can follow up with communication with your local MP and to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) if the replies from Regional TV broadcasters are less than forthcoming to put pressure on the regional TV broadcasters.

You can shop around to watch ITV Border’s Lookaround (online if needs be, though a surprising number of places in North Lancashire can pick of the transmission signal for ITV Border): ITV Border’s Lookaround provides excellent coverage of Cumbria (five out of eight news-features covered Cumbria on Lookaround tonight, the other three news-items were of events from just over the Scottish Border). You can watch ITV Border Lookaround to find out what is happening northwards of your communities for a change and follow that up with the LancsLive website for news about Lancashire. If you live in Carnforth or Morecambe news about Cumbria and Lancashire is more relevant than incessant Greater Manchester/ Merseyside coverage. You can then tell broadcasters that you are shopping around for more geographic-appropriate local news-coverage. If you and your friends do this, in addition to writing to your local MP and to the DCMS, this will put further pressure on broadcasters.

If you live in northern North West England and irrelevant Regional TV is something that bothers you, you can go even further to put pressure on Regional TV broadcasters: Get involved with a Political Party like the Liberal Democrats and use that to campaign for better-resourced (and more localised) Regional TV that is more fitting for the area extending from Carlisle to Preston, rather than just along the M62 Corridor. Invite your friends to do the same and, if you have the resourcefulness, use a Campaign platform like 38 Degrees to campaign for better, improved Regional TV for your communities and put some real pressure on broadcasters. A Campaign for all areas northwards of Preston to be transferred to the ITV Border Lookaround transmission area, with the Media City headquarters of Regional TV in North West England being picketed by such a Campaign will really pressurise broadcasters to either transfer the area from ITV Granada to ITV Border, or make a real effort to provide greater coverage of areas northwards of Preston on ITV1 Granada Reports through opt-out coverage!

The days of almost one million inhabitants who live in northern Lancashire and South Cumbria playing second-fiddle to the over five million who live in the urban south of North West England can, and must, be rectified. However if viewers who live in Garstang, Fleetwood, Lancaster, Heysham and Barrow-in-Furness just sigh and meekly accept the situation, sticking with ITV Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight for Fear of Worse (i.e., “We can’t watch Border! That’s Scotland!”- Spoiler: It Isn’t), then things will not change: Programmers based at Salford Quays will continue to effectively dismiss viewers who live northwards of Preston as they are in the minority and those Programmers will feel confident that the viewers have nowhere else to go. The time has come for those Regional TV Programmers based in Media City to feel that the 110% assurance of loyalty from all North Lancastrians and South Cumbrians no matter what, no matter how much they are effectively ignored, is very much misplaced.

There is only one way that producers for BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports will be prepared to spend another £2 million on providing opt-out coverage each year for viewers in North Lancashire, South Cumbria- and indeed for the Isle of Man: That is if the reactions of viewers in Barrow-in-Furness, Lancaster, Morecambe, Fleetwood and Carnforth is such that they feel that if they do not spend £2 million to provide much better opt-out coverage they will lose more than £2 million annually. If 50% of the viewers of ITV Granada Reports who live in South Cumbria and northern Lancashire switch channels that is 200,000 less viewers, businesses will advertise rather less in the ITV1 Granada Region- and that could represent a cost over £2 million! If money is the main reason why neither BBC1 North West or ITV Granada provide opt-outs to greatly improve news-coverage for the northern North West of England, money (or the threatened loss of it) can be used to make programmers for ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight provide much better news-programming northwards of Preston! The Programmers’ stance of “Can’t afford to provide an opt-out for North Lancashire and South Cumbria!” will become “We cannot afford not to provide opt-out news-programming for the northern North West…because we will lose viewers-and money- if we don’t provide it!

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.

One thought on “Another Cumbria News-drought from NW Regional TV. It Does Not Have To Be Like This.

  1. Today 09/03/2023 was lot of news on Isle of Man form schools & health services & events be closing because of the weather and news of snow also bomb squad in Ramsey & steam packet, canceling there sailings, even news about nurses pay & news about Douglas Council Social housing. So yes there lot of Isle of Man news today enough fill hole 30 mins #isleofman bbc / itv news show instead of BBC Northwest, that not cover any of big isle of man news stories of day what point of manx public pay for bbc ween no local tv or radio service broadcasting from Island not one big story of day got on to the bbc .

    Time we Isle of Man have own bbc or itv are own Isle of Man tv channel that broadcast from the Isle of Man made by people of island to served the #isleofmna with local island news,sport,politics instead of having to be forced to watch another country’s news that we not part of

    Time force #bbc have own bbc Isle of Man news output or we not pay them shuld be by manx law that if there not broadcasting any local show form isle of man then they don’t get paid by manx public

    Who think it’s time that the Isle of Man have its own dedicated bbc Isle of Man tv news output for #Isleofman serving the islands local news & sport & politics. Instead of having to watch @BBCNWT that talk all about Manchester & the UK that Isle of Man is not part of Uk #bbciomtv

    So yes every day big Isle of Man news , sports, politics story are forgotten about that bbc north west think ok there not serve the Isle of Man

    they didn’t even put out the amber weather warnings on the weather map for tonight’s forecast

    But to what your say yes probably right bbc won’t spend that amount of money on another region news for England but they might put in one for another country like the Isle of Man as I don’t think BBC would want to lose their license free money get off the hole Isle of Man and I also have feelings there not want the Manx Government and are laws after them.

    but with all cuts there do local radio and tv news I be supporting the nuj union bbc local radio strike happen in Uk next week on budget day as no local bbc shuld be cut or bbc shuld not be allowed to get away with getting rid of all local services

    But isle of m. have lot push for a bbc Isle of Man

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