1st May 2018
Regular readers of this Site will be aware that I critique Regional Television coverage of Cumbria, northern Lancashire and the Isle of Man as being inappropriate and insufficient for these areas, in view of their distance from the main metropolitan centres of Manchester, Liverpool and indeed Cheshire in the south of the English North West.
For viewers of ITV Granada Reports and BBC North West Tonight who live in (say) Carnforth in North Lancashire or the small town of Bardsea in South Cumbria, they get poorly represented and over 70% of coverage on their “local” news is about the urban areas over one hour’s drive away: By most folk’s definition that is not local and it is well beyond the distance and travel-time that they would commit to to go on a day-trip- unless it was a matter of the utmost severity (like a relative in a critical condition in one of the Region’s major hospitals).
For viewers who live in South Cumbria and Lancashire as a whole, the distance to the main urban centres- and thus the distance of most of the “Regional News” reported on the television from almost two million people who live there is 50 miles away: Blackpool, for instance, is just over 50 miles from both Manchester and Liverpool and over 70 miles from most of Cheshire, Burnley is just over 25 miles from Manchester but it is well over 50 miles from Liverpool and from Cheshire, Preston is 30 miles from Manchester, 35 miles from Liverpool but over fifty miles from most of Cheshire; Morecambe is sixty miles from Manchester, more than this from Liverpool. Much of the Regional News presented is scarcely local to folk living in these towns and cities in Lancashire let alone Cumbria!
Other significant areas of population over just 1.5 million people with an average distance of 50 or miles from adjacent major cities have regional television programming distinct from the major urban areas fifty miles away, either on ITV or BBC Regional Television. Examples include the following:
- Hull, East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire (population two million) have a version of BBC Look North especially tailored to their areas that is different from the version of BBC Look North that covers Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Doncaster and other parts of West and South Yorkshire.
- Both BBC and ITV Regional Television programming for the counties of South East England- Kent, Surrey, East and West Sussex- are different from the regional programming specifically covering London. This is despite most of Kent, Surrey, East and West Sussex being within 50 miles of London.
- Scottish Television (STV) provides different regional versions of it’s News at Six programming for Edinburgh and Glasgow, despite these cities being just 50 miles apart. Dundee, just 60 miles north of Edinburgh receives yet again a different version of News at Six.
- The East and West Midlands receive different Regional Television programming on both ITV and the BBC despite the respective areas being (on average) fifty to sixty miles away from each other.
There is really every justification that Lancashire and South Cumbria, on the basis of their populations and distance form the main urban areas further south getting Regional Television tailored to them. And the Isle of Man, with a population of over 80,000 and its own independent territory should (like the Channel Islands) get separate news- programming again to reflect their unique political and geographical position. Both the BBC and ITV have the resources, currently spent on the wrong things, to rectify this.