28th September 2023

Dear Readers

Regular readers on this website will realise that this Website campaigns for better, more localised Regional TV in the northern half of North West England: This website encourages folk who live in Lancashire and South Cumbria to fight for more local Regional TV news with the tools that they have. One way of doing this is by watching the Regional TV programming that exists that is more geographic-appropriate.


BBC1 North West Tonight

Both BBC1 North West Tonight and ITV1 Granada Reports cover areas north of Preston poorly. However, BBC1 North West Tonight does cover Lancashire better than ITV1 Granada Reports, and it covers Cumbria too. On the other hand, it is rare that ITV1 Granada Reports has a full-on news-feature about Cumbria. This is indisputable, and a trawl through the Facebook feeds of ITV1 Granada Reports and of BBC1 North West Tonight indicates how much news from north of Preston each produces. Two nights ago, BBC1 North West Tonight had a major piece on Leighton Moss, near Carnforth in North Lancashire. There was also a mention of the South Lakes Safari Zoo, near Ulverston last night on the programme. One typically goes days without hearing of anything from north of Preston on ITV1 Granada Reports.

To that end, it means that if one lives north of the M62 corridor viewers should watch BBC1 North West Tonight. That’s if they want a more local news-service. This is not to say that BBC1 North West Tonight is ideal for viewers who live north of Preston. However, one stands a higher chance of getting news within fifty miles of one’s home from BBC1 North West Tonight!

This is useful for folk living in and around Preston or on the Fylde Coast to know: These parts of Lancashire can get That’s TV Lancashire (Freeview Channel 7- website here:, with ten minutes’ news just about Lancashire. However it’s hard for folk to break the habit of a lifetime:  That sit-down-and-watch Regional news at tea-time is ingrained. Also, a short ten-minute programme might not be folks’ idea of good Regional news. Nevertheless , folk still have ways to communicate to programmers their viewing needs through action, not just words. This means that Lancastrians should watch BBC1 North West Tonight not ITV1 Granada Reports for local news. This BBC1 Regional TV service is unmistakably North West, and recognises the regional affiliation towards Manchester that many Lancastrians have.

Choices for viewers in Lancashire

North Lancastrians have stronger links with Cumbria and the Lakes, which BBC1 North West Tonight fails to recognise: Folk living north of the River Ribble would prefer a more Lancashire-Cumbria flavoured Regional news-programme. Indeed, from somewhere like Carnforth both BBC1 North West and ITV1 Granada can seem very Manchester/ Merseyside-focussed. Viewers here could switch over to ITV1 Border Lookaround with a clear view north for their aerial: ITV1 Border Lookaround has lots of news about Cumbria: This, combined with the Lancs Live website might be better for getting more geographic-appropriate news in North Lancashire.

Viewers in central Lancashire

Further south near Preston, switching to Regional TV that covers Cumbria and southern Scotland, but not Lancashire appeals less. The ability to boycott regional TV to strongly convey to programmers that locals want better depends on alternatives. It also depends on where folk live. On the Fylde Coast and around Preston BBC1 North West Tonight is the most local half-hour Regional TV that there is. Here viewers should watch this Regional TV which typically has two or three news-items about Lancashire each night.

However much they may want news about Lancashire and some about Cumbria, Prestonians still have links with Manchester. Manchester is just 30 miles from Preston and half an hour away by train. The credible course of action for folk living near Preston would be to watch North West Tonight, not Granada Reports. Viewers should also write to programmers to demand more local news-coverage. They should explain that’s why they don’t watch ITV1 Granada Reports. If programmers don’t respond positively then there’s That’s TV Lancashire one can watch. That would ram the message home to Regional TV programmers. This, of course, depends if one is prepared to give up the half-hour Regional TV viewing!

The ideal for Regional TV is 80% within a half-hour drive of one’s home and 20% of news from places up to an hour’s drive away. For Preston and the Fylde coast, much of Cumbria but also most of Greater Manchester is within an hour’s drive. It follows that BBC1 North West Tonight provides the wider area coverage that That’s TV Lancashire doesn’t: A combination of the two is likely to provide the best mix of geographic-appropriate local and Regional TV news.

Watching Regional TV and putting pressure on Regional TV Programmers

It is, therefore, possible for Lancashire viewers to help themselves to good all-round local news coverage and put pressure on Regional TV producers. As far south as Chorley it is possible to completely turn off ITV1 Granada Reports and still get local news. Those who don’t mind just a ten-minute Regional TV programme can just watch That’s TV Lancashire for local news, and boycott BBC1 North West Tonight too if it’s not local enough. All this, in addition to writing in and involving the local MP, puts pressure on broadcasters. Producers for ITV1 Granada Reports would be more sensitive to such pressure since fewer viewers means less advertising revenue. A potential loss of one million Lancastrians would concentrate minds in the ITV1 Granada newsroom in Media City!

ITV.Plc will not easily be persuaded that they need to ensure ITV1 Granada Reports covers Lancashire and Cumbria more. That’s because three-quarters of viewers who live in the ITV1 Granada transmission area live in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire. Programmers would want to retain the viewers in the urban south of north West England. The solution that is required is for an opt-out from ITV1 Granada Reports to cover Lancashire and Cumbria better. But only if everyone who lives north of the M62 Corridor switches to BBC1 North West Tonight is that likely. Faced with the potential loss of almost half their viewers (and a fall in advertising revenue), ITV1 Granada may decide to invest in a 15-minute opt-out from within ITV1 Granada Reports. This would provide Lancastrians and south Cumbrians with much more localised news-programming. That, in turn, will increase the pressure on BBC1 North West Tonight to cover Lancashire and Cumbria better.


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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