Regional Television in North West England and Urban-Centric Sports Coverage.

8th April 2018

Dear Readers

Firstly, I hope all readers of this Site have had a happy Easter period; that you have been able to take some time off work to visit friends and family.  This is my first topic on here in over a week as I have had my brother home for a few days followed by a family friend who works in the Lakes.

As readers of this Site will now be aware, this Site has articles that critique Regional Television and news-provision in the North-West of England:  The northern three-quarters of the Region- i.e. north from Wigan- is poorly represented in news coverage; northern Cumbria also has BBC news-output from the North-East of England with coverage that is 85% about the North-East which is very unsatisfactory.  The Isle of Man, with its own Parliament (the Tynwald) and Government has no news-programming of its own and gets output from BBC North-West and ITV Granada, which often fail to mention the island at all in their bulletins.

Today, I wish to look at the Sports coverage, which with five minutes coverage on the nightly bulletins seems a little excessive in view of the fact that sports fanatics have Sky Television channels totally devoted to football, cricket, skiing, motor-sports- whatever takes their fancy. It is a measure of the urban-centric focus of Regional Television in North West England that the nightly sports coverage is dominated largely by the big four Premier League Football Clubs in Manchester and Merseyside: Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool Football Club and Everton’s goings-on at Goodison Park. Burnley, which is also in the Premier League, seems to get less of a mention. Occasionally you will also hear about Blackpool Football Club, Preston North End or Bolton Wanderers. Rugby also features from time to time, when you will get to hear about Sale Sharks (in the Aviva Premiership Rugby Divison). You may also hear about Caldy Rugby Football Club on the Wirral or Fylde Rugby Club near Blackpool- but these are in a lower league so are less likely to get a mention.

In the summer months cricket is offered covered, this tends to mean Lancashire County Cricket- based at Old Trafford (Manchester rather than Lancashire per-se) and Derbyshire County Cricket gets featured in North-West Regional Television because viewers in the north-west of Derbyshire (around Buxton) are within the broadcast area of North-West based Regional Television output. In the spring you also have the Grand National at Aintree in Merseyside.

The point that has to be made about the Sports coverage is that the main football, rugby and county cricket teams in North West England are in the main cities and towns in the south of the Region.  The top four football teams in the North West in the Premier League are in Manchester and Liverpool and the one North West rugby team in the Aviva Premier Rugby Division is Sale Sharks, Sale is on the Cheshire/ Greater Manchester border. Since most sports viewers in the North West of England tend to like football, rugby or cricket this does tend to slew the Sports coverage towards the urban south of the Region.  Cumbria and northern Lancashire, not to mention the Isle of Man, tend not to get a mention.

But there are sporting events that interest folk who live in Cumbria or in northern Lancashire though they are less likely to be into Manchester United’s goings-on at Old Trafford.  For starters these communities have their own rugby or football clubs like Morecambe Football Club or Kendal Town Football Club that they are liable to support. In summer there are local cricket teams like Netherfield Cricket Club (near Kendal) or Millom Cricket Club: None of this seems to get a mention in regional news output.

In addition to all this folk who live in northern Lancashire, the Isle of Man or South Cumbria who all get North-West Regional Television output have other sports activities, particularly in the summertime when you have local and county-level agricultural shows: Examples of these shows are the Westmorland County Show at Crooklands, just south of Kendal (this year it will be on 13th September) and the Great Eccleston Show in Lancashire (this will be on the weekend of the 14th to 15th July this year).  These local and country shows feature sports such as Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling, horse show-jumping and (in the Lakes) possibly a fell-race too. A major fixture in early June is the Appleby Horse Fair in the Eden Valley of Cumbria, to which folk travel from far and wide; though it is a little beyond the transmission boundaries of either BBC North-West or ITV Granada, it is certain South Cumbrian viewers of both these North-West Regional Television programmes would appreciate some coverage of this important annual horsing event that will have relevance to them.

The Isle of Man also has similar rural shows and events like the Isle of Man Southern District Agricultural Show and (of course) the Isle of Man is well-known for the annual TT Races (26th May through to 8th June this year).

It would be great if both the BBC and ITV Granada in the North West of England would try to cover some of the more rural-flavoured sporting fixtures likely to be of interest to the more northerly viewers of their news-programming. It would be irksome for viewers in South Lakeland who might be interested in the Grasmere Gallop to have to contend with coverage of Lancashire County Cricket coverage at Old Trafford.  By the way, the Grasmere Gallop (a six-mile run round Rydal lake and Grasmere village) is on 2nd June this year.

During the autumn and winter months, when the football and rugby season is in full-swing, there are still small local football and rugby teams in Cumbria and northern Lancashire that could be touched upon from time to time.  In addition, the autumn months bring the hunting season to rural areas of the North West- these take place across Cumbria and Lancashire:  Hence a report on these hunts and the actions of hunt-saboteurs in trying to thwart the hunts in more northerly parts of the North-West would break up the endless sports-coverage of Manchester United, Liverpool Football Club and Everton Football Club.

Ian Pennell


#NorthWestTonight #BBC #northwesttonight #GranadaReports #Lancashire #Cumbria #IsleofMan #NorthWest #CountyShows #fellraces #Sports #hunts #foxhunting #Lakeland #TTRaces #ttraces #football #rugby #cricket #showjumping #Lakes #ApplebyHorseFair




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