The North West of England Proper: Perspectives on Regional Television output.

19th May 2018

Dear Readers,

Apologies for the absence of output over recent days, as I have been busy with domestic  commitments.  However, this will be rectified and there will be some more regular posts about BBC and ITV Regional Television in the North West of England in coming days!

Today I aim to concentrate on how regional out put must go down in what viewers in Cumbria and the northern half of Lancashire must consider to be the North West proper- that is those parts with the Irish Sea rather than Wales to the west and which it is very clear that they are not in the Midlands in any way shape or form.

Viewers of Regional Television in Kendal or Carnforth will have a different perspective of what NorthWest England is than viewers in Macclesfield or Malpas:  The viewers in Kendal and Carnforth would consider full coverage of the entire NorthWest Region to extend right up to the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle whilst Cheshire viewers would consider coverage as far north as the South Lakes and Barrow to be more than adequate- but they would expect that coverage to include northern Staffordshire and Shropshire and north-east Wales because they would consider such locations as “North West”- even though north-east Wales is clearly not part of NorthWest England. On the flip side of that viewers of NorthWest Regional Television in Cumbria or northern Lancashire could be quite annoyed that their regional news covers any part of Wales or Staffordshire whilst giving little coverage of Cumbria or northern Lancashire.

For viewers of NorthWest Regional Television in South Cumbria, the NorthWest of England includes all of their county of Cumbria right up to the Scottish border but they really would not count Cheshire and certainly not northern Derbyshire (which is covered in BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada output) to be part of the NorthWest. Many Cumbrians infact consider Manchester to be in the Midlands!

It is vital that both the BBC and ITV Granada provide a regional news service tailored to their viewers in all parts of their transmission area. If this requires further efficiencies from both organisations to make monies available for opt-out or indeed seperate regional programming for their more northerly viewers to achieve the aim of making regional output relevant and fitting for all their viewers, so be it.

The Isle of Man, by the way, is a separate nation state in its own right. It deserves and needs its own opt-out programming out from the main BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada output.

Ian Pennell

 

#NorthWest #Kendal #Cumbria #NorthLancs #Lancashire #Cheshire #NorthWestTonight #GranadaReports #BBC #ITV #RegionalTV #RegionalTelevision

The Maps displayed by BBC NorthWest Tonight and ITV Granada Reports show a Statement of Intent of the areas they cover!

3rd May 2018

Dear Readers,

Just yesterday BBC North West Tonight showed a map to illustrate where in the North West local council elections were taking place (see here: https://twitter.com/kevfitz21/status/991668859575955456). The map only extended up to include South Lakeland, one of the few places in the North West with a Liberal Democrat-run Council: The map did not go further north and it certainly did not include the rural part of Carlisle City Council’s area where local elections will also be taking place today.Don’t South Cumbrian viewers of North West Regional Television have a right to find out about significant political events happening right across their county, which could have an impact later on how their county in run, on local and regional television?

At the end of the nightly regional programming is the regional weather forecast which (to be fair) extends a bit further north in BBC North West Tonight- you can see that it covers the Cumbrian fells and just about extends up to St. Bees Head (the most westerly point in the English North West and where viewers get BBC Regional News that’s 85% about the North East of England).  However BBC North West Tonight’s weather-map does not extend northwards to incorporate Workington, Whitehaven, the Eden Valley, the northern Lakes and the Carlisle area- all of which are politically and geographically in North West England, and which are areas that folk who live in Lancashire and South Cumbria travel to on day-trips (particularly to the Lakes), shopping expeditions and the like: People living in the south of Cumbria and in Lancashire need to know what the weather will be like should they decide to travel north for a day.

There was a recent report on the BBC North West website, three of the top ten most polluted towns and cities are here in the North West: Included was Manchester, Salford and Liverpool- they forgot to mention Carlisle that was also on the list! : “Ah, well- we don’t include Carlisle” they might have said!

The reason why BBC North West does not display most of Cumbria in its regional maps – or report on towns and on Carlisle City in mid or northern Cumbria- is because northern and West Cumbria are beyond their northern transmission boundary. It effectively means that they state “We do not cover northern Cumbria because people there don’t watch our news- programming and folk who watch our news programming will have to accept that we do not cover all of North West England- despite our name”.

What’s worse is that viewers in one part of Cumbria who have to contend with both BBC North West and ITV Granada and their political maps don’t have their Constituency shown at all! The good people of Millom, Haverigg, Duddon Bridge and Silecroft all live in the Copeland Parliamentary Constituency and in the Copeland Borough Council area- neither the Constituency nor the district council in question appear on either BBC NorthWest’s not ITV Granada’s regional political maps. How can political programming just so cruelly dismiss the direct political concerns of over 10,000 people who live in North West England?

It is a shame that BBC North West have to leave this impression since they have (just occasionally) covered some serious news items concerning central, northern and West Cumbria in recent weeks- for instance the furore over the proposed zip-wire on Thirlmere, house-fire deaths near Appleby, Prince Charles’ visit to the northern Lakes and a man who drowned after getting into difficulties in Wastwater. They could advertise this fact by showing northern Cumbria in their regional maps- whether it is weather forecasts, politics, or indeed the regional map that they display at the start of the North West Regional News: It would show that they cover the entire English North West which stretches from Cheshire right up to the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle; this would demonstrate to Cumbrian viewers of BBC North West programming that they cover Cumbria and care about issues that affect them.

ITV Granada Reports do not cover all of the North West, despite advertising as doing so.  They hardly cover Cumbria at all, though to be fair on them their Regional Maps display all of the South Lakes- despite much of South Lakeland getting ITV Border Television. ITV Granada’s remit now also includes the Isle of Man which, separate from North West England and a semi-independent nation-state in its own right gets very little coverage and is scarcely covered in ITV Granada’s maps! With regards to Granada, principal place-names on its weather-maps often exclude Cumbria and the Isle of Man- small wonder folk living in these areas and who can only get ITV Granada, not ITV Border feel disenchanted with their Regional Television programming! If ITV Granada wish all their viewers to be happy with their programming, they need to be seen to represent their more northerly viewers properly- otherwise they might lose advertising revenue as viewers in South Cumbria and North Lancashire try fiddling with their TV-reception to get ITV Border!

As a matter of fact, can I point out that if you live in Lancaster or Morecambe you could get ITV Border, and watch their flagship news- programme “Lookaround” as far back as 2002.  It was not brilliant, the picture was black- and- white but you could hear the news broadcast very clearly.  Today, with digital programming and also the option of postcode-mapping and you live in South Cumbria or North Lancashire you could switch to ITV Border and watch Cumbrian news on “Lookaround” that will probably be more relevant to you than 80% Manchester, Liverpool and Cheshire. If you live on the Isle of Man or live in parts of Lancashire that cannot in any way shape or form get ITV Border you could just switch off- or watch BBC North West Tonight, which has started covering more northerly parts of North West England rather better than ITV Granada: If enough people did this ITV Granada would get a sharp shock and a wake-up call to represent the interests of their more northerly viewers and cover ALL of the North West properly (and also the Isle of Man)- as indeed they state on their website!

In conclusion, maps tell you a lot: If a business has a large map of Britain in its office or in the brochures it sends out to customers- and has part of the map around where it is based shaded pink- that is an indication of where it is willing to do business: Anyone ringing in to this business from a location outside the area indicated on its map can expect to be given short-shrift and told to find a similar business closer to them; they cannot expect that business to serve their interests.  With news-programming maps demonstrate more than where you can get the news, but also the areas they are willing to cover.  It’s time both BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada enlarged their maps northwards because Cumbrian viewers don’t think these programs serve their interests!

Ian Pennell

 

#politics  #constituencies #maps #Millom #millom #silecroft #Silecroft #Haverigg #haverigg #Corney #DuddonBridge #duddon #cumbria #Cumbrian #ITVGranada #GranadaReports #NorthWestTonight #northwesttonight #IsleofMan #NorthWestEngland #northwestengland #lookaround #ITVBorder #RegionalMaps #Maps #map #political #geographical #Map #viewers #RegionalTV #TVRegion #NorthWest #Constituency #DistrictCouncil #IsleofMan #LocalNews #news

Cumbria and Lancashire’s two million people, on average 50 miles from from the M62 Corridor, should have their own NorthWest Regional Television.

1st May 2018

Dear Readers,

Regular readers of this Site will be aware that I critique Regional Television coverage of Cumbria, northern Lancashire and the Isle of Man as being inappropriate and insufficient for these areas, in view of their distance from the main metropolitan centres of Manchester, Liverpool and indeed Cheshire in the south of the English North West.

For viewers of ITV Granada Reports and BBC North West Tonight who live in (say) Carnforth in North Lancashire or the small town of Bardsea in South Cumbria, they get poorly represented and over 70% of coverage on their “local” news is about the urban areas over one hour’s drive away:  By most folk’s definition that is not local and it is well beyond the distance and travel-time that they would commit to to go on a day-trip- unless it was a matter of the utmost severity (like a relative in a critical condition in one of the Region’s major hospitals).

For viewers who live in South Cumbria and Lancashire as a whole, the distance to the main urban centres- and thus the distance of most of the “Regional News” reported on the television from almost two million people who live there is 50 miles away: Blackpool, for instance, is just over 50 miles from both Manchester and Liverpool  and over 70 miles from most of Cheshire, Burnley is just over 25 miles from Manchester but it is well over 50 miles from Liverpool and from Cheshire, Preston is 30 miles from Manchester, 35 miles from Liverpool but over fifty miles from most of Cheshire; Morecambe is sixty miles from Manchester, more than this from Liverpool. Much of the Regional News presented is scarcely local to folk living in these towns and cities in Lancashire let alone Cumbria!

Other significant areas of population over just 1.5 million people with an average distance of 50 or miles from adjacent major cities have regional television programming distinct from the major urban areas fifty miles away, either on ITV or BBC Regional Television.  Examples include the following:

  1. Hull, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (population two million) have a version of BBC Look North especially tailored to their areas that is different from the version of BBC Look North that covers Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Doncaster and other parts of West and South Yorkshire.
  2. Both BBC and ITV Regional Television programming for the counties of South East England- Kent, Surrey, East and West Sussex- are different from the regional programming specifically covering London.  This is despite most of Kent, Surrey, East and West Sussex being within 50 miles of London.
  3. Scottish Television (STV) provides different regional versions of it’s News at Six programming for Edinburgh and Glasgow, despite these cities being just 50 miles apart. Dundee, just 60 miles north of Edinburgh receives yet again a different version of News at Six.
  4. The East and West Midlands receive different Regional Television programming on both ITV and the BBC despite the respective areas being (on average) fifty to sixty miles away from each other.

 

There is really every justification that Lancashire and South Cumbria, on the basis of their populations and distance form the main urban areas further south getting Regional Television tailored to them.  And the Isle of Man, with a population of over 80,000 and its own independent territory should (like the Channel Islands) get separate news- programming again to reflect their unique political and geographical position.  Both the BBC and ITV have the resources, currently spent on the wrong things, to rectify this.

Regional Television still effectively covers Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man poorly.

24th April 2018

Dear Readers,

For all that BBC NorthWest Tonight seem to be making a little more effort to cover the more northerly areas of North West England and the Isle of Man a little better- for instance the death of a man who drowned in Wastwater was covered this weekend just gone and their programme series on best new buildings in the NorthWest devoted two mini-episodes to Lancashire and to South Cumbria/ Isle of Man,- it is still the case that the area north of a line from Southport to Rochdale gets 25 to 30% coverage on a good day.  If you lived somewhere like Kirkby Lonsdale or Grange over Sands, both South Cumbrian towns that receive BBC North West programming, it remains the case that only about 30% of coverage would have much relevance at all to people living in this towns on a good day but almost none on a bad day.

For these viewers who live in Kirkby Lonsdale or Grange over Sands, their main ITV output comes from Granada which has not covered Cumbria for weeks. There is a real case for transferring all of South Cumbria- and indeed northern Lancashire- to the ITV Border Region which covers Cumbria very well.

The only relevance of Manchester or Liverpool to people living in these South Cumbrian towns is that folk might travel to Manchester or Liverpool Airports to go on holiday, or  if they must travel to the major hospitals there were a close relative to be unfortunate enough to suffer life-threatening injuries in an accident or crime, and require specialist surgery to put it right. People from South Cumbria might, if pushed, travel to Manchester’s Trafford Centre for a major shopping expedition but even then they would probably try to get what they want from Amazon or look at major shopping centres in Preston or Carlisle before deciding to travel for over seventy miles to buy what they need. The only thing really likely to get Cumbrian folk to have any real interest in what goes on in Manchester or Liverpool is if they have children at university in one or both of these cities, they support either of the Manchester or Liverpool football teams or they have close friends or relatives living in these cities- and these issues could well apply to folk living almost anywhere in the country!

Is coverage that gives one coverage of two or three items within an hours’ drive on a good day and none at all on a bad day good Regional programming for an area?  The BBC’s news-reporter, when the main national news finishes and abefore the Regional Bulletin comes on, often says “Now the news where you are:”. Regional Programming is clearly Not “The News where you are” for viewers of such Regional Programming who live in northern Lancashire, South Cumbria, or indeed the Isle of Man (where nothing that happens off the island would be considered to be “where you are” by any stretch of the imagination.

Viewers of BBC Regional Programming in northern Cumbria receive Look North broadcast from Newcastle; only 15% of the coverage is about Cumbria on a good day and none on a bad day:  For viewers in Workington, Whitehaven or Egremont (for example) this is clearly Not “the News where you are” either!

The case for the BBC to split its NorthWest Region, so that Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man have their own regional television programming- with opt-outs for northern Cumbria and the Isle of Man is overwhelming.

#RegionalTV #RegionalNews #LocalNews #NorthWest #BBC #ITVGranadaReports #GrangeoverSands #KirkbyLonsdale #IsleofMan #Lancaster #Morecambe #Blackpool #Cumbria #Lakes #Cumbria #Cumbrian #Lakeland #NorthWestTonight

The BBC could spend much more money on Regional Television in the North West if it was more Efficient.

17th April 2018

Dear Readers,

I stumbled across this article written for The Daily Mail on 14th June 2015: It is entitled “BBC Spends less than half its Cash on Programmes”. It details expenditure for the Accounting Year ending April 2014- this after the BBC was made to cut 20% off expenditure in real terms by the Coalition Government led by David Cameron. Details in this report on BBC Expenditure for the Accounting Year 2013-14 include :

1) £107 million cost-overrun for upgrade and refurbishment to New Broadcasting House.

2) £230,000 spent on tea for BBC staff during the 2013-14 year.

3) 100 members of staff paid more than the Prime Minister.

4) Over £5 million spent on Management Consultants and PR Gurus during the 2013-14 year.

5) £369 million in pay-offs handed to departing staff over eight years up to April 2014.

The severance pay costs and the amount paid for BBC management are very high. Redundancy payments for an organisation of similar income and out-goings to the BBC (and over a similar period of time) would be a fraction of the amount that the BBC paid out.

And a small fraction of that £369 million, let’s say £70 million, would pay for a new BBC NorthWest Region for just Cumbria, Lancashire and the Isle of Man complete with separate opt-out news-programming for the Isle of Man and northern Cumbria for a period of over twenty years!

Likewise, greatly cutting the budget for Management Consultants and PR would also save enough money for the BBC to greatly improve Regional Television News output for NorthWest England and the Isle of Man. So when Aziz Rashid, the Head of Regional and Local Programming for North West England, says that the BBC cannot afford opt-outs and extra resources to improve Regional News Programming for more northerly parts of North West England and the Isle of Man he is not being truthful. The BBC wastes a lot of money on back-office stuff that does not benefit viewers of BBC programming. It is time that this was dealt with.

Ian Pennell

 

#NorthWestTonight #NorthWest #BBC #BBC #Cumbria #Cumbria #Cumbria #Lancashire #Lancashire #Lancs #Lakeland #lakeland #IsleofMan #isleofman #waste #backoffice #management #RegionalTelevision #news #LocalNews

Improving NorthWest Regional Identity in NorthWest Regional Television News.

13th April 2018

Dear Readers

On this Site there are articles critiquing Regional Television News-Programming in NorthWest England and on the Isle of Man (which is in the transmission areas of both BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada), particularly the lack of comprehensive and consistent coverage of locations north of a line from Southport to Rochdale.  There are articles discussing how to improve Regional Television for the margins of the transmission areas and for the more northerly parts of the Region; invariably these cost money.

In today’s post I wish to look at regional identity:  Clearly NorthWest Regional Television, that advertises as covering the Northwest of England and the Isle of Man must be seen to cover the whole of the NorthWest of England comprehensibly and also cover the Isle of Man to the satisfaction of the folk who live there, in what is a nation state in its own right.  Does the programming champion Regional Identity in a manner that makes clear that “This is the NorthWest”?  Unfortunately, there is no way that Regional Programming with responsibility for the NorthWest of England and the Isle of Man does this and there is a perception (quite justified) that what you really get is The Greater Manchester and Merseyside News, not The NorthWest and Isle of Man News.

Most people understand the NorthWest Region in geographical terms as all of that part of England which lies between Scotland and the English Midlands that lies westwards from the Pennines- all of those areas where the rivers drain westwards into the Irish Sea.  This covers an area that includes almost all of Cumbria (Alston Moor and the villages of Midgehome and Coalfell, in the extreme north-east of Cumbria is in the South Tyne catchment from where waters eventually flow into the North Sea at Tynemouth); all of Lancashire, Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester drains west into the Irish Sea as does part of the Craven District of North Yorkshire, a tiny sliver of Northumberland where the River Irthing (that drains west into the Irish Sea) forms part of the border between Cumbria and Northumberland not far from the Scottish Border; the High Peak area of Derbyshire and parts of northernmost Shropshire are also north of the flat country of the English Midlands to the south and lie in this zone. Incredibly folk in all of  the above-mentioned areas except the northern two-thirds of Cumbria and the tiny sliver of Northumberland already mentioned can and do watch NorthWest Regional News Programming.

Central and northern Cumbria get their Regional Programming from BBC Look North (NorthEast/ Cumbria) and from ITV Border: The latter covers Cumbria extremely well, except when there is joint ITV Tyne-Tees Border news in the mornings and at weekends that brings quite a lot of coverage of NorthEast England at the expense of Cumbria and southern Scotland (where viewers also get ITV Border, with special Scottish opt-out programming on weekdays). BBC Look North serves their Cumbrian viewers poorly as Cumbria would be lucky if they received two news items out of nine or ten on the main evening bulletins, with the other news being about the NorthEast.

Now folk in the north-east of Cumbria and around Carlisle might be OK with BBC Look North because they are likely to head to the NorthEast for major shopping expeditions or to go to the airport.  Indeed residents of Alston Moor, in the remote north-east of Cumbria also get ITV Tyne-Tees output because their television is transmitted from Pontop Pike near Newcastle- they are quite happy with this arrangement because they have more to do with the North East than other parts of Cumbria!  However, folk who live in West Cumbria who find 85% of the output is 100 or more miles away and on the other side of the Pennines must find this irksome and feel that they are in the “wrong” BBC TV region. Their sense of Regional Identity is not served or enhanced by their getting Regional Television output from Newcastle or Gateshead, since West Cumbria is clearly in the NorthWest of England as is very apparent from looking at a map!  None of this means that folk living in Whitehaven, Workington, Frizington, Egremont or Cockermouth would be better-served by being transferred by being in BBC NorthWest’s transmission area with the current make-up of news-programming being mainly Manchester, Liverpool, northern Cheshire, etc. However there is a case for ITV Border to be tied-up with ITV Granada rather than ITV Tyne-Tees so that weekend and breakfast news-programming is about the NorthWest rather than the NorthEast.

With the exception of folk who live in the north-east of Cumbria and around Carlisle, viewers of Regional Television in the North West want news that is recognisably North West England because that is where they are geographically, but folk also want news that also covers their local communities well- otherwise what is the point of watching the “Local News”?  In the Isle of Man, where folk see themselves as living in a separate country, they are affronted by 95% so-called local news which is about England.  Addressing all this adequately cannot be achieved without splitting the large BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada Regions; providing totally separate programming for Lancashire and South Cumbria and then also providing the Isle of Man with its own local news programming.  When that is done northern Cumbria could be transferred into the new BBC NorthWest (Lancashire/ Cumbria) Region which would also provide opt-out programming for northern Cumbria, with news-coverage allocated 80% northern Cumbria, 10% South Cumbria and 10% overlap northwards across southern Scotland, eastwards to Newcastle, Gateshead, rural Durham and Northumberland and southwards to as far as Manchester and Liverpool.

The large ITV Granada Region also needs splitting so that Lancashire/ South Cumbria become ITVNorthWest, the Isle of Man becomes ITVManx and Manchester/Merseyside/Cheshire/High Peak remain ITVGranada- the area around Kendal and Windermere can then be transferred from ITVBorder to ITVNorthWest to enable these areas to get more localised news- Lancaster and Preston being more local to Kendal than Workington or Dumfries.  The alternative is for ITV-Granada to lose the Isle of Man, all South Cumbria along with northern Lancashire- which would be transferred to ITV Border’s transmission area: Being part of a transmission area with a population  of 1.5 million rather than almost seven million folk ought to greatly improve coverage for Cumbria, northern Lancashire and the Isle of Man.  ITV Border would, in the process sever links with ITV Tyne-Tees and ideally provide separate opt-out programming for viewers of their regional bulletins on the Isle of Man as well as maintaining and enhancing the existing opt-out programming for their viewers in southern Scotland.  The main programming from their studios in Carlisle could then concentrate on the enlarged Cumbria/North Lancashire area and this operation could be re-named ITV Border NorthWest to reflect the new transmission area.

Only when this is done will all parts of the NorthWest of England and the Isle of Man have a Regional Television service that covers the NorthWest effectively such that viewers from Crewe in the south to Carlisle in the north and Douglas on the Isle of Man have Regional Television Programming that serves them well and covers their communities: Yes it will require the BBC and ITV Granada to allocate more resources to Regional Television in the NorthWest of England; which ought to be possible when the BBC had to make £100 millions of savings as part of the Government’s Austerity drive in recent years.  It is a lame excuse for them to say they then can’t find the extra £3- 4 million per annum to achieve the above. For instance, in these days of Netflix and LoveFilm why do both the BBC and ITV need to spend money on transmission in the small hours- when 90% of the population are asleep- so that some night owls are entertained?? Night shift workers have to work so don’t really get the chance to watch telly and people can watch films on YouTube, put a DVD on or switch over to a Sky Film Channel.  What about the renumeration paid to get top talent? Is it really necessary for the BBC to spend £1 million or above on good quality actors, as they have done in recent years? The TV License Fee has just gone up to £150.50 a year, could not some of the extra revenue be used to provide a new TVRegion for coverage-starved Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man, with opt-outs for the Isle of Man and northern Cumbria? Where there’s a Will, there’s a Way!

Regional Television must cover the NorthWest of England and the Isle of Man in a manner that reflects the Regional Identity of both, not some contrived version of the NorthWest Region and the Isle of Man. People who live in towns and cities like Kendal, Barrow, Lancaster or Kirkby Lonsdale don’t feel it is the NorthWest News because Manchester, Merseyside and northern Cheshire dominate the coverage so it comes across as “Greater Manchester and Merseyside” rather than “North West”, particularly when other parts of the NorthWest feature so little and the northern third of NorthWest England is never covered because it is beyond the transmission area of the NorthWest Television broadcasters.  Viewers on the Isle of Man, which is not part of the NorthWest of England, must feel quite insulted by lots of coverage of Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington, Stockport and the like- but not a mention of what is infact their own country. Everyone in the NorthWest of England and on the Isle of Man should feel that Regional Television output is relevant to their communities and covers the Region effectively, which is not the case at present.   At the very least, the various heads of programming and news-editors of BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada ought to be aware of these issues and plan to do something about it and to be willing to commit extra resources to improve coverage for those areas where the regional output still fails to pass muster.

Ian Pennell

#BBC #NorthWest #ITVGranada #BBCNWT #NorthWestTonight #GranadaReports #ITVBorder #LookNorth #IsleofMan #Cumbria #thelakes #Lakes #Lakeland #Lancaster #northwestengland #SouthLakes #Fylde #Kendal #Carlisle #Workington #Whitehaven #Frizington #Workington #Lookaround #TyneTeesBorder #TVRegion #LocalNews #Cumbria

 

 

A method for BBC NorthWest and ITVGranada to improve coverage.

10th April 2018

Dear Readers

Both the BBC and ITV Granada in the North West of England can still improve news coverage for all parts of the region if they structure the news-output in the right way, so as to maximise the number of items covered then allocating a portion of the news-items for different parts of the North West of England and the Isle of Man.

This will involve editing some news-items so they are of a specific length but I would suggest a breakdown of the main half-hour regional news programs as follows:

– Main headline news item of five minutes.

-One news item of three minutes.

-One news item of two minutes.

-Nine news items of one minute.

-Five minutes for Sports coverage.

-Two minutes for the weather forecast.

All this fits within 26 minutes and given the broadcast slot is typically over 27 minutes this will give a little leeway to extend coverage for a major sporting event or if one or two of the nine short news-items need a bit more attention.

There are twelve news items, which should be stipulated as follows:

-South Cumbria and northern Lancashire: At least two news items.

-Isle of Man: At least two news items.

-South Cheshire/ Peak District: At least one news-item.

The numbers of news-items are the minimum stipulated for each area.

In addition, the headline news-item lasting five minutes would be the most serious or significant happening in an area that stretches from Stafford and northern Shropshire right the way up to the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle and extending a little way eastwards into the West and North Yorkshire Pennines. This area from which the most serious news occurs would also include the IsleofMan and the Irish Sea.

This method of apportioning news coverage would increase effective coverage at the margins of the transmission area, it would also mean that folk would get to hear about serious events beyond the transmission boundary in places that might still be local to viewers at the periphery of the transmission area.

For shorter bulletins at lunchtime, late at night and at weekends the area from which the headline news item comes should also extend from Stafford up to the Scottish Border and eastwards into westernmost Yorkshire. The major news-item would be shortened to two minutes; a second news item would be one minute with two more news items being just 30 seconds each. The sport and weather would be in the last minute of a five-minute bulletin. With these shorter bulletins a stipulation that at least one of the four news-reports covers Lancashire, south Cumbria and the Isle of Man must be included. If the short bulletins last ten minutes and three of these are given over to the Sports and weather, then there should be the serious item (from the larger area as above) which would last two minutes and five news-items of a minute’s duration each. The stipulation of areas from where the news comes from should then be:

– The Isle of Man – at least one item of coverage.

-Cumbria and northern Lancashire (the serious news item could be about northern Cumbria), – at least one news item.

– Cheshire and High Peak, – at least one news item.

In this way, the main centres of population are still covered well but the more rural communities of Cumbria and northern Lancashire are also better covered. Regional news in the North West would then look more like the news about the North West of England and the Isle of Man rather than the Manchester and Merseyside news!

The best option of all, though, would be for the transmission areas in North West England and on the Isle of Man to be split- so that Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man get their own much more localised news-coverage. In this ideal situation the Isle of Man would have special opt-out news-programming from a new BBC and/ or ITV North West Television Region.

However, if this is not going to happen, then Regional Television in the North West should be structured to the above templates for the main evening news and shorter bulletins.  The costs of doing this should be minimal.

Ian Pennell

#NorthWest #NorthWestTonight #ITVGranada #IsleofMan #Lancashire #Lancs #Cumbria #Lakes #Lakeland #LakeDistrict #Barrow #Cartmel #Kendal #KirkbyLonsdale #Carnforth #Lancaster #Morecambe #Heysham #Douglas #Laxey #Peel