A Tale of two ITV Regions: Granada and Border.

19th February 2018

Dear Readers,

For sheer contrast in the resources dedicated to Regional Television we look at two ITV Regions, both traditionally based in the North West of England: ITV Granada is based at Media City at Salford Quays and ITV Border has (traditionally) been based in Carlisle in North Cumbria. Unfortunately, as a consequence of its tie-up with ITV Tyne Tees, much of the programming comes from Gateshead in the North East, even though ITV Border has regained it’s full Regional News Programming as of September 2013.

Granada Television’s flagship news programme Granada Reports is broadcast across a transmission area that now includes the Isle of Man and covers all of North West England apart from the majority of Cumbria. There are no opt-outs in news provision, even for the Isle of Man or more northerly parts of the Region that includes much of South Cumbria along with northern Lancashire. The entire transmission area, which also includes parts of Derbyshire (which is not in the North West)  has a population of 6.9 million folk. Most of the news-coverage concerns the urban areas of the south of North West England, namely Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Warrington and the conurbations of South Lancashire. Cumbrian viewers of ITV Granada will often go days without a mention of their own county on their local news programme that advertises as covering the North West. Viewers of ITV Granada who live in northern Lancashire or South Cumbria are unhappy with the amount of regional news coverage their area gets.

Contrast this with viewers in the ITV Border Region who watch the flagship local news programme Lookaround. ITV Border, despite serving an area with a population of just over 800,000 people provides an opt-out for viewers who live in Southern Scotland. The total population of the Scottish part of the ITV Border Region is about 375,000 people, yet provision is made by an ITV Region which does not even have one million inhabitants living in its transmission area for viewers on the Scottish side of the Border to have their own local news programming – transmitted from a transmitter at Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. And why are viewers in southern Scotland given what amounts to their own local news programming? It is because what concerns these viewers is different to what concerns those viewers on the Cumbrian side of the Border. These Scottish viewers also want to know what goes on in their localities, rather than what happens in (say) Whitehaven or Kendal. ITV provide the ITV Border  Region with the resources for this Scottish opt-out for precisely these reasons!

Furthermore, now that Berwick-upon-Tweed has been returned to the ITV Tyne Tees Region and the Isle of Man to ITV Granada, ITV Border serves it’s Cumbrian viewers, pretty much its only non-Scottish viewers very well with its more Cumbrian news programming. A population of no more than 400,000 people get tailored coverage of their own county. This is what local news should be like!

Unfortunately, viewers in the very south and south-west of Cumbria, around Barrow-in-Furness, Ulverston and Grange-over-Sands are just that bit too far south to get ITV Border’s output, or if folk in these locations can, it’s a fuzzy grey picture! People living in North Lancashire cannot get ITV Border either and the Region that is transmitted to them is ITV Granada, which is transmitted to almost seven million people. People who live in Ulverston, Barrow-in-Furness and Grange-over-Sands are right to feel hacked-off, especially as ITV Granada makes little effort into recognising the geographical circumstances of their more northern viewers by putting resources into improving news coverage in northern Lancashire and South Cumbria.

The area of Lancaster, Morecambe, Fleetwood, Blackpool, Garstang and the part of South Cumbria that receive ITV Granada has a population of around 700,000 people. That is almost twice the population of ITV Border’s potential Scottish viewers (for whom provision is made for them to have their own regional news programming). Is it not time that ITV Granada put resources into providing an opt-out for South Cumbrian and northern Lancashire viewers?? Do situations that affect viewers in this more northerly part of North West England matter less than the concerns of viewers of Regional Television in southern Scotland??

The practice of good Regional News Programming in the ITV Border area can be extended to the BBC. The BBC spends 31.6 pence less on Regional News Programming per person in North West England than in England and Wales as a whole, as I discussed in an earlier topic. The result is that BBC North West Tonight covers Lancashire and Cumbria poorly in news-coverage. If the spend per person on Regional News Programming could be brought up to the national average there would be enough money for there to be a separate BBC North West Region covering Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man only.

Neither ITV nor the BBC spend enough of their vast budgets on Regional Television News Programming and they do not spend the resources fairly around the country. It’s time that both ITV and the BBC addressed this.

If neither the BBC nor ITV are willing to  improve provision for better regional television for northern Lancashire and South Cumbria then there is a strong argument for pressure being brought to bear on ITV to transfer northern Lancashire and South Cumbria from the Granada Region to that of ITV Border. The transfer of this area from an ITV Region with almost seven million inhabitants to one that will still just have 1.5 million souls (and with separate English and Scottish Regional Programming) will help to improve coverage of South Cumbria and northern Lancashire immeasurably. This can be done by tweaking the Lancaster Relay Transmitter that currently picks up ITV Granada from Winter Hill (just north of Bolton) so that it instead picks up ITV Border from the Caldbeck Transmitter south-west of Carlisle. This would bring ITV Border to all of South Cumbria and northern Lancashire down as far as Lytham St-Annes and Preston.


#ITV #Granada #Border #NorthWest Tonight #Cumbria #Lancashire

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