9th March 2023
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: https://www.lancs.live/news/local-news/police-appeal-missing-12-year-26327885). 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!”