10th February 2018,
If you live in the North West of England, particularly if you live anywhere north of Preston and wonder why the regional news on BBC’s North West Tonight has little of relevance to your area; it is because the BBC spends less per head of population and per square kilometre on Regional Television in the North West than elsewhere in the country.
The total spending by the BBC on the twelve English BBC Regions, specifically for local news production was £29.8 million. The output will have been shared more or less equally between the twelve English regional studios to pay for upkeep of the studios, the journalists and reporters. The BBC’s local radio stations also source news which is often then picked up by the regional outlets; total spending by the BBC on the BBC’s forty-two local radio stations in England, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man was £112.9 million in 2016/17.
Now the BBC North West Region is home to seven million people and BBC North West Tonight sources some news from five BBC Local Radio Stations. There is just one BBC Region serving these seven million people. These seven million souls have a share in a direct BBC Regional Television investment of £29.8 million divided by the twelve English BBC Regions, which comes to £2.483 million or just 35.5 pence per person. The BBC Local Radio investment for the BBC North West Region is 5/42 multiplied by the total BBC Local Radio investment for England, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man of £119.8 million. This comes to £ 14.167 million, or £2.02 pence per person. If we add up the total this £2.38 per person.
Now let’s look at the national English picture: There were 55.6 million people living in England, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands in 2016. The total spend by the BBC on Regional Programming was £29.8 million in the 2016/17 Tax Year so if we divide this figure by the total population we get a spend of 53.6 pence per person, which is 18.1 pence more than the average for the BBC North West Region! Looking at the English (including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands ) national average spend for BBC Local Radio the per person spend is £119.8 million divided by 55.6 million people, which comes to a spend of £2 and 15 and a half pence. Here the BBC North West Region is again short-changed by 13.5 pence per person. When we add the short-changing of North West folk by the BBC up it amounts to 31.6 pence per person. This is almost as much as the BBC invests directly into regional news programming for each person in the BBC North West Region.
For folk living in northern Cumbria, who get their Regional output from the North East the figures stack up better. The BBC Region has a population of 3.36 million so the spend per person on Regional Television is £29.8 million divided by 12 and divided by the population of the BBC North East and Cumbria Region, which comes to 73.9 pence per person. However, this area is served by just three BBC Local Radio Stations so this spend per person is 3/42 times £119.8 million divided by the population of 3.36 million. This comes to £2 and 54.7 pence per person. This is considerably better than the national average and each North Cumbrian viewer have £3 and 28.6 pence spent on them. This too, shows because North Cumbrian viewers of the flagship Regional Television Programme Look North do hear one or two news reports about the county on most nights. However, because the BBC North East/Cumbria Region is so large, with a transmission area covering 16,000 square kilometres (over forty percent bigger than BBC North West’s area of 11,000 square kilometres) North Cumbrian viewers will find nothing else on their regional programming that is local.
Meanwhile, the BBC spends £ millions on providing the BBC World Service in countries such as Russia and in North Africa (and in their languages) whilst such countries are hostile to the British people and to Britain itself. Perhaps the BBC Trust could be amended so that the 7.3 million people living in all of the North West of England and the Isle of Man are served with better, more localised Regional Television that covers the entire Region well.
Even bringing the spend per person on Regional Television and Local Radio up to the national average would raise almost £2.3 million per annum. This sort of money would pay for an opt-out so that Cumbria and North West Lancashire get proper local coverage in regional bulletins.
BBC Annual Report 2016/17