Regional Television in the NorthWest of England: Hard Transmission boundaries cut across communities.

23rd March 2018

Dear Readers,

A feature of regional television in the North West is that the area the broadcasters cover stop in the middle of significant communities at the edge of the transmission boundaries for the NorthWest’s main television news broadcasters BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada: These Transmission boundaries are (usually) hard borders, i.e. the regional news-service provides absolutely no coverage of events just a couple of miles over the transmission boundary outside the broadcast area.  This leads to communities at the edge of- and that straddle- the television broadcast area not being covered effectively.

Examples of such communities in North West England include:

  1. South Cheshire around Malpas, from where folk will travel to Whitchurch, just over the border into Shropshire. A little further west there are villages right on the Cheshire-Clywd (Wales) border; Higher Wych, Tallarn Green and Threapwood.  None of these areas are served well by BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada whose transmission boundaries cuts through these communities and when these broadcasters will not cover anything over the border into North Wales or Shropshire.

2. The area around Buxton in north-west Derbyshire.  Folk living here will never find out about events a little further south-west over the border around Leek in Staffordshire or to the south-east around Bakewell (still within the same county).  Derbyshire as a whole is not in the NorthWest, though Buxton is within the transmission areas of both BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada. To this point we must consider whether any part of Derbyshire is best served by being in a NorthWest-based television Region; if the High Peak area prefer output from the NorthWest the cut off of news in their community must still be addressed.

3.The Copeland District of Cumbria is disected by the northern transmission boundary to both BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada. The town of Millom receives the both NorthWest regional broadcasters as do nearby Duddon Bridge and Broughton in Furness.  However, just 20 miles up the A595 at Seascale, still in the Copeland District of Cumbria viewers get ITV Border and BBC Look North (NorthEast/ Cumbria). Neither Seascale or Egremont are covered by BBC NorthWest nor ITV Granada.

4. The Westmorland area of SE Cumbria is also disected by the northern transmission boundary of both ITV Granada and BBC NorthWest. To be fair on ITV Granada they do provide overlap coverage across those parts of the South Lakes that receive ITV Border for the benefit of viewers in places like Grange over Sands, Kirkby Lonsdale and Cartmel which receive ITV Granada.  However, BBC NorthWest is broadcast to towns like Dent and Sedbergh, in the south-east of Cumbria but it does not provide overlap to Tebay or Shap. Kendal, Kirkby Lonsdale  and Oxenhome are united with Tebay and Shap a little further north by virtue of their being part of the rural historic county of Westmorland and all these communities are intertwined by virtue of this fact and their relative closeness.

The Westmorland Gazette newspaper, based in Kendal, regularly covers Tebay, Orton, Ravenstonedale, Kirkby Stephen, Shap and Appleby (in Westmorland, as folk in the town like to insist), but NorthWest Regional Television transmission boundaries disect these communities so that some locals don’t know what is happening elsewhere in their own communities: Again, this is something that both ITV Granada and BBC NorthWest need to rectify.

5. The communities of Bacup, Rochdale and Littleborough in south-east Lancashire, which receive both BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada output are affected by the hard transmission boundary to the east of them. These communities will never ever hear about events in Ripponden, Todmorden or Hebden Bridge, which are only ten to 15 miles away but are over the transmission boundary into West Yorkshire for which news-coverageis strictly left to BBC Look North (Yorks) and ITV Yorkshire.

6. There is part of the Craven District in North Yorkshire that receives BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada output, taking in Ingleton, Settle and Bentham. These areas are hardly best-served by NorthWest Regional Television, which will never cover anything south-east of Settle or north-east of Ingleton; perhaps someone will one day rectify this and see to it that these communities get Yorkshire Regional output.

Correcting the cut-off in these, and other, transmission-edge locations of the NorthWest will require more resources for Regional Television in the NorthWest;  this again comes back to the subject of splitting the BBC NorthWest and ITV Granada Regions. This will require additional resources to be directed towards Regional Programming in North West England, a subject that I have covered on this Site recently.  In the meantime, communities in Cumbria, near the Lancashire/West Yorkshire border and in South Cheshire will only continue to  suffer from poor all-round coverage of local communities; which is something that viewers living in the likes of Warrington or Manchester tend not to suffer from.

Ian Pennell

#BBCNorthWest, #ITVGranadaNews, #ITVNewsBorder, #Cheshire #Rochdale #Littleborough #Kendal #Sedbergh #Westmorland #Cumbria #Millom #TheLakes

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