Regional Television in North West England does not serve the English North West either properly or comprehensively.

5th March 2018

Dear Readers

A flick through the Online News-Feeds of both ITV Granada (http://www.itv.com/news/granada/) and the Facebook ( https://en-gb.facebook.com/BBCNW/)  and Twitter (https://twitter.com/BBCNWT) News-Feeds of  BBC North West Tonight over  recent  days will again show up the disparity of new-coverage in terms of where in the North West you are: Greater Manchester and Merseyside account for the vast majority of coverage, much has been dedicated to news coverage of the M62, a teenager found dead in a canal in Manchester and the young Merseyside couple who are fighting against a legal ruling that their terminally-ill baby should be allowed to die. There is a tendency to repeat two or three of the same top news-items several times, which should be unnecessary on an Online News-Feed.  How about making room for other news-items of interest to folk who live in other parts of the North West??

Since Saturday, there has been no coverage of Cumbria, two news items for the Isle of Man and just one news-item that could be construed as northern Lancashire (if we include the report on financial problems concerning Blackpool Football Club). The northern half of the Region got not one peep out of the North West Television Regional News-providers. At the same time, BBC Look North, which broadcasts to the North East and northern Cumbria (https://twitter.com/BBCLN/) and ITV Border ( http://www.itv.com/news/border/) provided extensive coverage of the state of roads being cleared in Cumbria and of the RAF being dispatched from Carlisle Airport with vital supplies to communities stranded after the blizzard-conditions.  South Cumbrian viewers of BBC North West’s Regional Bulletins who are just a bit too far south to get ITV Border (and have to contend with ITV Granada) get absolutely no coverage of the snow-crisis unfolding (and its aftermath) just one hour’s drive further north.

People who live in towns such as Carnforth, Kirkby Lonsdale, Grange-over-Sands, Milnthorpe, Morecambe, Beetham and Arnside have not only been neglected by regional bulletins over recent days, but they do not really get a wider area of coverage of North West England that suits them.  The whole area of South Cumbria and northern Lancashire that is comprehensibly shafted by both the BBC and ITV has a population of over 700,000 people;  the Border Television Region has a population of just over 800,000 yet this population of just over 800,000 folk have an entire TV Region to themselves (except for mornings and at times over the weekend when they share with ITV Tyne-Tees) and (moreover) ITV Border’s viewers on the Scottish side of the Border have their own news-programming via an opt-out! Viewers just a little further south in the South Cumbria and northern Lancashire parts of the ITV Granada and BBC North West Regions, which to be honest are still over an hour’s drive from Manchester and Liverpool are much more poorly served by Regional broadcasts (the big cities of Manchester and Liverpool and immediate surrounds totally dominate North West Television News- output).

Cumbria, including the north of the county, is infact part of North West England and it would be really good if this fact was reflected in regional television bulletins.  It would improve the sense that the northern two-thirds of North West England are acknowledged.  Just imagine a viewer in (say) Kirkby Lonsdale or Milnthorpe were to find out that events in their own county (within an hour’s drive of them and still in the North West) were reported on another Regional News Service that they could not receive, whilst their own North West Regional News-Bulletins completelt failed to report it- instead majoring 80% on stuff over an hour’s drive to the south:  They would be annoyed at best and (if it was serious) livid at worst.

The English North West Region does cover a large area, so what would be considered local news to someone in Warrington, for example, would be very very different to what would be considered local to someone in (say) Workington:  If the smaller ITV Border Television Region provides different programming for locations north and south of the Scottish Border, then it is surely right that regional television should be different in Kendal compared to what it is in Manchester.  Spending on regional television programming by the BBC in the North West is over 31 pence per person less than the national average, it really is time this is rectified by the provision of opt-out programming for Lancashire, South Cumbria and the Isle of Man that is separate from BBC North West Tonight or ITV Granada for Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire. The opt-out programming for Lancashire and south Cumbria should clearly include about 10% overlap coverage south to Manchester and Liverpool and northwards to the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle. West Cumbria should then be transferred from the Caldbeck transmitter to the Lancaster transmitter carrying the new BBC North West Tonight (Lancashire/South Cumbria) so that they get programming about the northern two-thirds of the North West, rather than mainly North East news-coverage (as it gets at present from BBC Look North, broadcast from Newcastle) .

In the absence of such a commitment to spend more on Regional Television in the North West of England, the respective bulletins produced by ITV Granada and BBC North West Tonight must commit to covering the northern two-thirds of the North West better- including overlap coverage of northern Cumbria (this is important as northern Cumbria is part of North West England).  To achieve this aim, I would suggest shaving just one minute off the sports coverage (this wont kill the Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton supporters!) and by keeping the first bulletins to just three minutes in length (unless very serious with a pan-regional coverage).

This is right and proper:  Significant areas of the North West of England have been short-changed with regards to Regional Television for a long time.  The population of Lancashire, South Cumbria and the Isle of Man is about 1.8 million- which is roughly the same as that of Northern Ireland.  And since Northern Ireland  has its own BBC and ITV Regions all to itself, why should the populations of South Cumbria, Lancashire and the Isle of Man not be provided with more resources?

Ian Pennell

#NorthWestEngland  #NWEngland  #BBCNWT  #Granada   #GranadaReports  #BBC  #ITV  #Cumbria  #Lancashire  #Milnthorpe  #Kendal   #SouthCumbria  #Morecambe  #Carnforth  #NorthCumbria  #ITVBorder  #ITVGranada   #Carlisle   #NWTonight

 

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