North West Regional News Utopia: What do folk want from their Regional Bulletins?

26th February 2018

Dear Readers,

What would be the ideal local television news bulletin, if money were no object? It would, for a given location feature news that occurred within about 10 miles of an urban location, but within 20 miles for a rural area where the nearest shops and amenities are some distance away. Beyond that, regional television (if it was ideal) would have about 20% coverage of locations further out and up to an hour’s drive away- and also incorporating some sense of regional identity.

Let’s see how this might look for different parts of North West England: In Macclesfield, Cheshire in the very south of the Region there would be 80% coverage of the immediate area around Macclesfield and extending to Congleton in the south and Altrincham in the north. The further-out area would cover the remainder of Cheshire, extend east across the Peak District and well into mid-Derbyshire, to the north it would include all Greater Manchester and Merseyside, Lancashire and (to incorporate regional identity) include Cumbria right up to the Scottish Border. In the west parts of North Wales would be included and (to the south) would cover Staffordshire, most of Shropshire and down the M6 as far as Birmingham.

Clearly, this is nothing like the news coverage that folk in Macclesfield get today, but a utopian type coverage would be like this, providing news very relevant to the area.

Let’s now see what the middle of Liverpool would get on their utopian regional bulletins: The vast majority, that is 80% of the news would be about the city of Liverpool, nowhere else. This would be high-quality and relevant news about the City of Liverpool only. The outer area from which 20% news coverage would come from would be the remainder of Merseyside, all Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and (yes) Cumbria which incorporates the sense of regional identity. People in Liverpool are within touching distance of an hour’s drive to the South Lakes and people in Merseyside do go on breaks to the Lake District. Also within this outer area, as regards Liverpool, is much of North Wales (within an hour’s drive), Derbyshire’s Peak District and the northern halves of Staffordshire and Shropshire. Alton Towers, the Theme Park near Stoke on Trent is within an hour’s drive of Liverpool (just) and many young folk with families from Liverpool must travel to Alton Towers on days out. A little news from northern Staffordshire and Shropshire would be of interest to Liverpudlians.

As we move north through the North West, the news which is considered most relevant and that considered local changes. Let us now look at the small town of Carnforth in North Lancashire.

For Carnforth, their utopian North West News Bulletins would have 80% news coverage of Carnforth, Lancaster, Morecambe, Heysham, Bolton-le-Sands, Hornby and surrounding rural areas. It would also include Kirkby Lonsdale, Arnside and Milnthorpe (which are just over the border into Cumbria). Beyond that, the outer area from which 20% of news coverage must come for Carnforth residents would extend south to include the rest of Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire (to incorporate regional identity), this area would extend north to incorporate Cumbria right up to the Scottish Border (to incorporate regional identity and because, as noted in previous posts, much of northern Cumbria is within an hour’s drive of North Lancashire). This outer area for idealised local news would also extend east from Carnforth into the Yorkshire Dales.

Travelling further north, the news that would be ideal for an area changes rapidly as we head up through Cumbria. For our last area we will look at the town of Wigton, about 12 miles west of Carlisle, and well into North Cumbria.

For Wigton, the 80% very localised news would cover Wigton, extend west to Maryport, extend north to the Solway Coast, south as far as Keswick and eastwards to include the city of Carlisle. Wigton is a small town in quite a rural part of North Cumbria so the very local definition extends 20 miles from Wigton to the north, south and west but going eastwards does not go beyond Carlisle.

The outer area, accounting for 20% coverage, and extending up to an hour’s drive from Wigton extends south as far as Manchester and Liverpool (to incorporate regional identity), including the rest of Cumbria and Lancashire.  This area extends east as far as Newcastle and Gateshead and includes the Tyne Valley in Northumberland (to satisfy those who think Wigton should be in a North East-based Region centred on Newcastle) and the outer area would also extend north to cover Dumfries, Lockerbie, Annan, Hawick and Langholm in southern Scotland (as well as the surrounding rural areas). That would be the utopian local news for Wigton.

Clearly, the BBC and ITV would need to increase spending on Regional Television over twenty times for all major districts of the North West to have their own local news coverage. However, just doubling it and having a new BBC and ITV Region for Cumbria and Lancashire (or in the case of ITV, extending the Border TV area south to include northern Lancashire) would bring local news up dramatically, making it much more relevant to a range of communities in the northern two-thirds of North West England.

Ian Pennell

#Utopianregionalbulletins #NorthWest  #Macclesfield #Liverpool  #Carnforth #Wigton  #LocalNews. #ITVBorder #ITVGranada #NorthWestIsNorthWest


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