24th April 2018
For all that BBC NorthWest Tonight seem to be making a little more effort to cover the more northerly areas of North West England and the Isle of Man a little better- for instance the death of a man who drowned in Wastwater was covered this weekend just gone and their programme series on best new buildings in the NorthWest devoted two mini-episodes to Lancashire and to South Cumbria/ Isle of Man,- it is still the case that the area north of a line from Southport to Rochdale gets 25 to 30% coverage on a good day. If you lived somewhere like Kirkby Lonsdale or Grange over Sands, both South Cumbrian towns that receive BBC North West programming, it remains the case that only about 30% of coverage would have much relevance at all to people living in this towns on a good day but almost none on a bad day.
For these viewers who live in Kirkby Lonsdale or Grange over Sands, their main ITV output comes from Granada which has not covered Cumbria for weeks. There is a real case for transferring all of South Cumbria- and indeed northern Lancashire- to the ITV Border Region which covers Cumbria very well.
The only relevance of Manchester or Liverpool to people living in these South Cumbrian towns is that folk might travel to Manchester or Liverpool Airports to go on holiday, or if they must travel to the major hospitals there were a close relative to be unfortunate enough to suffer life-threatening injuries in an accident or crime, and require specialist surgery to put it right. People from South Cumbria might, if pushed, travel to Manchester’s Trafford Centre for a major shopping expedition but even then they would probably try to get what they want from Amazon or look at major shopping centres in Preston or Carlisle before deciding to travel for over seventy miles to buy what they need. The only thing really likely to get Cumbrian folk to have any real interest in what goes on in Manchester or Liverpool is if they have children at university in one or both of these cities, they support either of the Manchester or Liverpool football teams or they have close friends or relatives living in these cities- and these issues could well apply to folk living almost anywhere in the country!
Is coverage that gives one coverage of two or three items within an hours’ drive on a good day and none at all on a bad day good Regional programming for an area? The BBC’s news-reporter, when the main national news finishes and abefore the Regional Bulletin comes on, often says “Now the news where you are:”. Regional Programming is clearly Not “The News where you are” for viewers of such Regional Programming who live in northern Lancashire, South Cumbria, or indeed the Isle of Man (where nothing that happens off the island would be considered to be “where you are” by any stretch of the imagination.
Viewers of BBC Regional Programming in northern Cumbria receive Look North broadcast from Newcastle; only 15% of the coverage is about Cumbria on a good day and none on a bad day: For viewers in Workington, Whitehaven or Egremont (for example) this is clearly Not “the News where you are” either!
The case for the BBC to split its NorthWest Region, so that Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man have their own regional television programming- with opt-outs for northern Cumbria and the Isle of Man is overwhelming.
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