8th September 2022
The lack of geographic-appropriate Regional TV, as watch by viewers, affects over six million people living across large swathes of Scotland and northern England, as well as the Isle of Man: It is not just in Northumberland and North Yorkshire that Regional TV News- coverage is not geographic- appropriate for. This is also the case across North Lancashire and much of South Cumbria in North West England, and the Isle of Man. That’s because the BBC and ITV Regional TV services for all these areas major on urban areas further south or other areas miles away. It also apples to the far North of Scotland, specifically the Hebrides and Orkney and Shetland Isles where no news not happening on those islands can be discribed as “local” to the people living there. The entire area encompassing rural Cheshire, northern Staffordshire and north-east Wales is another region not getting geographic-appropriate Regional TV News-coverage. There is, as is the case for viewers in rural Northumberland and the Scottish Borders little overlap coverage north to include significant happenings that may be of local interest but are not covered because they are beyond transmission areas. In some cases, for instance large parts of South Cumbria and North Lancashire in the ITV1 Granada TV Region, they would be better-served by being put in another TV Region and, in other cases like the Isle of Man, better-served by having a bespoke TV News-service of their own.
Unfortunately, at a time of likely encroaching recession and a Government considering sweeping away the TV License fee without exploring replacement funding for the BBC, it seems both the BBC and ITV.Plc are likely to consider further cuts to Regional TV News-services as their budgets are squeezed: That means the possible mothballing and amalgamation of TV Regions (like what ITV.Plc did to their ITV Tyne Tees and ITV Border regions in the 2009) which is only likely to mean an even poorer, geographically-irrelevant Regional TV-service for the areas identified above. In which case, one can add all of Cumbria and southern Scotland that is likely to be threatened with a much poorer Regional TV News-service than they get today.
This Website, campaigning as it does for better Regional TV for rural Northumberland, argues that good Regional Television News and Local news provision is a Public service which should be funded more- not less. Keeping folk in a community, particularly a rural community, informed about major events and happenings, bad weather and road-traffic information, etc., so that folk in that community can make informed choices (i.e., whether to postpone a journey, find a different route, or to be informed about lovely scenery to visit just 25 miles away), so that local folk can make these choices in real time is very important. These functions Regional TV should provide are as (or even more) important than keeping a library open so that folk can access information there. Good Local and Regional TV should thus be a higher priority in funding than repeats of old Westerns, East Enders or Coronation Street (important that those programmes are to some people) by the BBC and ITV.Plc. Regional Television should thereore be funded even better than libraries, and if this was so, there would be enough money to provide bespoke Regional TV News-services for the Isle of Man, South Cumbria and northern Lancashire, North Yorkshire and for Northumberland/the Scottish Borders, for the Cheshire/ North Shropshire/ north-east Wales region, and a new Regional TV News-service each for the Hebrides and Western Isles and also for Orkney and Shetland off the coast of far Northern Scotland. This is what those areas need, not even worse services than they get today.
Of course, funding the BBC and ITV Regional News out of general taxation is out of the question because if news-outles receive funding direct from the Government the News-providers will be pressurised to report news favourably about the governing parties in power and to report news disparaging of the opposition (or of their policies): That would not be good for Democracy! Regional TV provision should be funded by a consortium of local businesses (via advertising and product-placement), community funds, local lotteries and prize syndicates, and also through TV subscription.
However, the conundrum to the shortage of money for good Regional TV should, in the short-term, be resolved the Government providing a block-grant (without pressure to conform to political policies or stances); such a block grant should be underpinned by legislation protecting Regional TV News-providers from being threatened by loss of funding for reporting news embarrasing to local or national Government, but with legal safeguards stipulating that the money should be spent on the provision of Regional TV News and nothing else. The purpose of providing a block grant would be a one-off, to help with capital costs of setting up new Regional TV News-services and covering the first five years of their operation. Then the Regional TV News-service should be able to operate without recourse to Public funds except local raffles, lotteries, business and private donations and support and their continued operation would be underpinned by legislation requiring ITV.Plc or the BBC to provide these services going forwards whilst being given the freedom to raise money by whichever private means.
The current situation means that viewers in locations across the (largely rural) northern two-thirds of Northern England and on the Isle of Man (roughly north of a line from Blackpool across to Bridlington), across far Northern Scotland, and also in the large area encompassing Cheshire, northern Staffordshire and north-east Wales all tend to get news about happenings in places over an hour’s drive away with very little local coverage. The disconnect between what is important to local communities and what viewers there get from Regional TV is most acute in the following areas and for the following reasons:
- The Isle of Man gets 95% coverage about North West England from both ITV Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight. Since the Isle of Man is not part of the UK it means Manx viewers are offended with “local news” about another country whilst they get very little coverage of happenings on the island. This is completely unacceptable, even the Faeroe Islands (with a lower population than the Isle of Man) has its own TV News-service! The Manx Government must get involved and set about ensuring viewers have their own Manx TV service about happenings in their own country.
- Northern Lancashire and much of South Cumbria also get a choice of either BBC1 North West Tonight or ITV Granada Reports. Whilst BBC North West Tonight has some coverage of Lancashire, both the North West England Regional TV News-services major on Greater Manchester and Merseyside and there is little coverage that gets north of Preston. There will often be no coverage of Cumbria at all for days on end from either of these Regional TV News-services, which is very unacceptable for viewers in places like Millom or Milnthorpe.
- Northumberland gets Regional TV from BBC1 Look North (NE/Cumbria) and ITV News Tyne Tees. Both these mainstream North East England Regional TV News-services major upon Tyneside, Teesside and Wearside so viewers in northern Northumberland, in places like Wooler or Berwick-upon-Tweed get 95% coverage of happenings well over an hour’s drive away. On the contrary, happenings just over the Scottish Border are not covered so viewers in North Northumberland get no coverage of events not far to the north of their communities. The solution is that either ITV1 News Tyne Tees is given instruction to provide more coverage of Northumberland with overlap coverage to the Scottish Borders, or the BBC is required to set up a new BBC Region called BBC1 Northumberland & Borders for the benefit of those areas.
- The Hebrides and the Orkney and Shetland Isles off far Northern Scotland get Scottish TV News at Six (Northern version) or just BBC1 Scotland. Over eighty percent of the coverage is likely to be well over an hour’s travel time away and completely irrelevant for each of those locations from all these Regional TV News-services. For a viewer on Unst, in the north of the Shetland Isles (closer to the coast of Norway than to Edinburgh), over ninety percent of the “local” TV News is about happenings well over 100 miles away and a ferry ride of at least twelve hours. In terms of relevance for the north of the Shetland the Regional TV Service for Bergen and western Norway- NRK Vestland– (website here in Norwegian https://www.nrk.no/vestland/) would be just as appropriate for the far north of Shetland as would 90% of STV News at Six (North) output, -from both the news would be about happenings over 200 miles away, although getting NRK Vestland Regional TV would be difficult for Shetlanders. The solution is for Orkney/ Shetland and for The Hebrides to have their own Local/ Regional TV News- services, and that requires that the BBC is required- by law- to provide such services.
- North Yorkshire, with it’s huge size, is not adequately covered anywhere. The south of the county gets programming from ITV1 News Calendar or BBC1 Look North (Yorkshire) both of which cover West/ South Yorkshire and parts of northern Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, accounting for over 80% of the Regional news-coverage on both programmes. For a viewer in Skipton or Malton over 60% of the news is about happenings over an hour’s drive south with little coverage of places further north into North Yorkshire. Central and northern North Yorkshire gets Regional TV News from BBC Look North (NE/ Cumbria) or ITV News Tyne Tees. These Regional News-services are better than the Leeds-based outlets for northern North Yorkshire in terms of regional affiliation, but they hardly provide effective local News-coverage for places such as Hawes or Northallerton when 70% of coverage is of Tyneside, Wearside and northern Durham/ Northumberland. Teesside is local for places like Richmond or Guisborough, less so for Ripon. The far west of North Yorkshire, around Ingleton, get ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight with the Manchester/ Liverpool-heavy coverage being about places well over an hour’s drive away. The only satisfactory solution is for North Yorkshire to have its own BBC Region.
- Near the West Yorkshire/ Greater Manchester-Lancashire Border: These areas certainly get more local and relevant Regional TV news, but with significant shortcomings: Being close to the transmission boundary between the Yorkshire Regional TV News-services and the North West England (Salford-based) Regional TV News-services viewers never get to hear about significant happenings that are still local but on the other side of the transmission boundaries as none of the Regional TV News- services do overlap coverage across the Lancashire-Yorkshire boundary. This sizeable area extending east from Manchester, taking in the Peak District to the south, extending north-east as far as Bradford and north-west to include Rochdale, Burnley, and Colne is home to almost two million people, many who live in former industrial mill towns, surrounded by Pennine moorland and farmland. Yet the Regional TV News-services focus on the urban issues in Manchester or Liverpool, or (in West Yorkshire) news is mainly about Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield. This whole region identifies as “Northern” rather than “North West” England and it would certainly be appropriate that they have their own TV Region (another version of BBC Look North, perhaps) which, in these days of digital technology, is not insurmountable due to the terrain.
- West Cumbria: Viewers of Regional TV in this area do at least have ITV News Border Lookaround that provides a very good local and Regional News-service. They would be advised not to watch the BBC Regional News (Look North), with 85% news about North East England and concerning happenings 100 miles away. For sure North and West Cumbrian viewers don’t want news about Manchester and Liverpool (hence the reason why North Cumbrians protested bitterly at getting BBC North West Tonight in the late 1980’s), but surely it is possible for the BBC to provide West Cumbrians with more local news-coverage and to recognise that geographically, West Cumbria (which borders the Irish Sea) is not in any way, shape or form part of North East England,- perhaps with a Cumbrian opt-out from BBC Look North which has overlap coverage south into Lancashire as well as northwards into southern Scotland). Better still, the BBC should provide Cumbria and northern Lancashire alone with their own BBC Region!
- Cheshire, Northern Staffordshire, northern Shropshire and north-east Wales: This large area at the southern margins of North West England is home to almost two million inhabitants. This whole area identifies more as “North West” than “Midlands”, if people there go on major shopping trips or go to the airport, they will tend to go to Manchester or Liverpool rather than to Birmingham. A solution would be ITV.Plc being required- by law- to extend its ITV1 Granada Reports programme to cover northern Staffordshire and Shropshire, along with north-east Wales (which better covers the south of North West England than BBC1 North West Tonight), coverage of all these areas and Cheshire could then be beefed up. I am aware that ITV Granada Reports used to cover all these areas, but does no longer because guidelines were introduced to stop ITV Granada Reports covering north-east Wales and Staffordshire. Well those guidelines should be rescinded!
There are, in total, at least six million people living in Scotland, on the Isle of Man and across Northern England who, one way or another suffer a choice of default Local and Regional TV News-services that provide news that is not local and/ or totally cut communities off from news of places not far to the north or east- simply because these fall the other side of transmission boundaries. So viewers in Millom get news mainly about Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region but very little local news and no news about happenings just up the road in Whitehaven; viewers in Skipton get lots of news about Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield but little news about North Yorkshire and will never get to hear about happenings just across the border in east Lancashire or South Cumbria; viewers on the Isle of Man get 95% “local” TV news about another country; viewers in Wooler get lots of news about distant Tyneside, Teesside and Wearside, little news about their own county and no news about serious happenings just north into the Scottish Borders; and viewers in Baltasound, in the north of the Shetland Islands may as well brush up on the Norwegian that some of them are likely to have and watch the Regional News from the West of Norway because BBC1 Reporting Scotland will have nothing local and STV News at Six (North) is unlikely to!
The solution to this wholly unacceptable situation is firstly for folk to e-mail their Regional TV News- providers to explain that they are unhappy with the content and coverage of Regional TV News- services. They should then get local friends and family to write in too. Failing that, the next recourse is to write to the local MP so that they can put pressure on Regional TV News- providers to improve local news-coverage.
ALTERNATIVE LOCAL TV NEWS SERVICES IN REGIONS OF THE NORTH OF ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND FAILED BY THE MAINSTREAM TV REGIONS
As a consequence of financial constraints and the unwillingness of the BBC and ITV.Plc to invest more into Regional Television it is unlikely these measures alone will bring about much improvement: It’s easy for Regional TV producers to dismiss unhappy viewers as “moaning minnies” if those producers think they are the best show for those viewers that there is and are confident that viewers will not find another TV News-provider to provide the service they need. This then means viewers need to be able to write back to their Regional TV News- providers to point out that they will go elsewhere to find more local and geographic-appropriate Regional News- services. Depending on just where one lives in all the above-mentioned areas there may be news-outlets, even if only fairly rudimentary ones like You Tube “local news” services. If there is not one at all, one should consider getting the entire community to set up a local Community-led TV service. There is a need for viewers to be able to use “market pressure” to bring the ultimate influence on Regional TV News-providers so that they will produce the news that viewers require. Below, for each of the affected areas identified above are a list of Local TV News- outlets (with links to them):
THE ISLE OF MAN: You-Tube based Isle of Man TV has lots of news-clips covering recent happenings on the Isle of Man. If more folk used it and boycotted ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight, both the BBC and ITV.Plc would do someting about it. The link to You-Tube based Isle of Man TV is here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCIWwfPM2JDFBa_dj3OykOg.
NORTHERN LANCASHIRE AND SOUTH CUMBRIA: Viewers in this area should watch ITV Border Lookaround followed by BBC North West Tonight to get the best all-round local news-coverage. ITV Border provides very good coverage of Cumbria (usually over 50% of the total) with typically 45% being about Southern Scotland or- occasionally- north/ west Northumberland. BBC North West Tonight covers Lancashire better than ITV Granada Reports. Viewers can get ITV Border Lookaround in parts of North Lancashire and most of South Cumbria by pointing their aerials north but if one cannot then ITV Border Lookaround is available to watch on the ITV Border website (here: https://www.itv.com/news/border) from about two hours after the programme airs live. The website LancsLive (here: https://www.lancs.live/) has lots of news (and video clips) about Lancashire and some news about Cumbria. If viewers have Freeview there is That’s TV Lancashire (Freeview Channel 7), which viewers can get in the Blackpool area and That’s TV Cumbria (Freeview Channel 8), which viewers in North and West Cumbria can get.
NORTHUMBERLAND: Viewers in rural northern and western Northumberland are not too concerned with what is happening in Tyneside or Teesside, but with what is happening locally. Fortunately there are localised outlets of a very rudimentary nature that provide Northumberland-specific news-coverage. You Tube-based Hexham TV has up-to-date news about Hexham and surrounding areas of the Tyne Valley and it is very local (website here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCk0s7GfPKbVGRHHjPTH_BcQ) whilst here is also You Tube-based Northmberland TV which has coverage around Northumberland County Council which is Northumberland-specific (details here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRjaNG8hxEey9jHfGPaSuVg). These are not true Regional TV News-services but they have local news and short news-clips that keep one up to date with happenings in the local area. In the west of Nothumberland, west of Hexham, it is also possible to get ITV Border Lookaround with a clear view west, and that has plenty of coverage of Cumbria and southern Scotland (much of which is within an hour’s drive of westernmost Northumberland). In the North of Northumberland, it is possible to get coverage across the Border into the Scottish Borders and up towards Edinburgh from That’s TV Edinburgh & South Scotland (Freeview Channel 8) and Scottish TV (STV) News at Six (Glasgow/ Edinburgh version, 6.pm week-days) with a clear view north-west from one’s aerial. So here, it is possible to boycott both ITV1 News Tyne Tees and BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) and get some semblance of Northumberland news and also coverage of news from north of the Scottish Border.
THE HEBRIDES, ORKNEY AND SHETLAND: These remote islands, off Northern Scotland have very limited options for local news-coverage. The best Regional TV News- services, such that there are, are STV News at Six (North), which covers Aberdeenshire, Morayshire and Invernessshire- plus the Scottish Highlands (details here: https://news.stv.tv/section/highlands-islands). This Regional News-service is broadcast from Aberdeen and it was formerly ITV Grampian TV. There’s also BBC Alba, the BBC’s Gaelic TV channel that caters for Gaelic-speaking Scotland, mostly found in the Highlands and the Hebrides. Though coverage is a little more North Scotland- focussed it is still (essentially) Scotland-wide in it’s news and programme-coverage (details here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/alba). Neither of these news-services do justice to viewers of Regional and Local TV news on the islands well off the North Coast of Scotland.
Local news alternatives are otherwise limited, there is You Tube based The Orkney News which has news-clips about recent happenings on the Orkney Islands (website here: https://www.youtube.com/c/TheOrkneyNews/featured). Hebrideans might be interested to know about the broadband-based Hebrides TV which local Hebrideans with good internet connection should be able to access. Local folk can find out more about Hebrides TV here: http://www.hebrides.tv/. These are not proper Regional TV services, but if folk are determined they can get all the local news they need from these sites- they have news video-clips about the Orkney Islands and Hebrides respectively- and it is possible to boycott both BBC Reporting Scotland and the Northern version of STV News at Six and still get local news. The Orkney Islands used to have a dedicated Orkney TV station (ITV Orkney Television– there’s a piece about it here: https://apfs.fandom.com/wiki/Orkney_Television) but ITV Orkney was- sadly- mothballed when Scottish TV took over the ITV Scottish network (except ITV Border (Scotland)) in 2006. There is always a risk Local TV services being closed when Local and Regional TV is left wholly to Market forces!
For viewers on the Shetland Isles there is no bespoke local news-service that comes anywhere close to being even the most rudimentary TV service- there is the Shetland News website (details here: https://www.shetnews.co.uk/) and there is Shetland Internet Radio Station (SIRS.FM- details here: https://mytuner-radio.com/radio/shetland-internet-radio-station-463290/) which listeners on the Shetland Isles can tune in to with Internet connection. There is also BBC Radio Shetland, which listeners can get on 97.2 FM. In short, the situation is appalling because if its Regional TV Shetlanders want you have either got a choice of mainland northern Scottish news, whole of Scotland news from BBC Reporting Scotland, or news about the Bergen area and western fjords in western Norway from NRK Vestland (and the news would be in Norwegian)! All of these have news at lest 200 miles away separated by the vast expanse of the northern North Sea. The solution is for a local group of people who have news-collecting and technological abilities, who are Internet-savvy and able to set up TV stations to set up Shetland Community TV. This would be non-profit and would provide local news for folk living on the Shetland Isles.
NORTH YORKSHIRE: England’s largest county is inhabited by over 800,000 people and most of this large county is over 50 miles from the nearest major cities of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Sunderland to the north, and/ or Leeds and Bradford to the south. Consequently, much of this area is poorly represented by any of the mainstream Regional TV News-services provided either by ITV.Plc or the BBC. However there are a couple of major alternatives and, in combination with one of the main ITV or BBC Regional News-services means that viewers can help themselves to much better local news-provision by shopping TV channels or going on to the Internet. There is That’s TV North Yorkshire for anyone in the county with a clear aerial view of the Bilsdale transmitter, at the southern edge of the North York Moors (it is available on Freeview Channel 7- Website here http://www.thats.tv/north-yorkshire/). This provides ten minutes of bespoke North Yorkshire/ some Teesside news-coverage at 6.pm each week-day and there is most likely to be a high proportion of truly local news for anyone living in the county. However, the west of the county will struggle to get That’s TV North Yorkshire as aerials won’t be able to pick up the Bilsdale transmitter. Viewers in northern North Yorkshire- within 30 miles of Teesside can also get Teesside TV, which carries news about County Durham, Teesside and North Yorkshire (this is available on Freeview Channel 7, Website details here: https://uklocal.tv/teesside-tv/). Teesside TV is ideal for places like Richmond, Northallerton and Guisborough.
In the west and south of North Yorkshire, where it may not be possible to get That’s TV North Yorkshire (though you can get the signal off the Bilsdale transmitter as far south as Harrogate and Selby), and where Teesside TV will not really be geographic-appropriate there are other Local TV outlets to fall back on: There is That’s TV York, which majors on the City of York and surrounding areas like Selby and Harrogate, which is available on Freeview Channel 8 at 6.pm on week-days (details here: http://www.thats.tv/york/), and which could be followed up by BBC1 Look North (Yorkshire) to get coverage from Leeds, Bradford and Doncaster to which southern North Yorkshire has more regional affiliation. In the west of North Yorkshire BBC1 North West Tonight (available on Sky Channel 958) provides coverage of northern and eastern Lancashire and BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria- available on Sky Channel 955) will provide wider regional coverage to the north and north-west of the county- about 30% of BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) is about Cumbria or North Yorkshire (extended into Teesside).
For viewers in the far west of North Yorkshire, around Skipton or Ingleton, TV news specifically about North Yorkshire is harder to get: Viewers might have to fall back on news-clips from the That’s TV North Yorkshire Twitter feed (here: https://twitter.com/thatstvnyorks) or to watch the news from the main That’s TV North Yorkshire website (see above). Viewers would do this in conjunction with getting Lancashire news (much of Lancashire is within an hour’s drive of far western North Yorkshire) from the Lancs Live website (https://www.lancs.live/). Some of far western North Yorkshire is not far from Cumbria, and so viewers might want to get Cumbrian news. It is possible to get Cumbrian news from ITV Border Lookaround, which is put on the website about two hours after going live each evening. It would be necessary to go on to the ITV Border Website to watch it since almost all of western North Yorkshire is out of range of the transmission signal to get it. ITV Border’s website is here: https://www.itv.com/news/border. Despite some southern Scottish content, over 50% of the news from Lookaround is about Cumbria, much of which is within an hours’ drive of far western (and north-western) North Yorkshire and the rural-related topics of the programming from ITV Border Lookaround are more characteristic of those faced by rural communities in the west of the Yorkshire Dales than the urban-dominated output and issues discussed in either of the Leeds-based or Salford-based Regional TV News- services.
GREATER MANCHESTER- EAST LANCASHIRE/ WEST YORKSHIRE BORDER: This area includes a number of historical industrial towns where cotton and other commodities were manufactured, nestled as they are amongst the Pennine fells. This area is bounded by a line from Buxton to Chesterfield in the south and a line from Accrington to Bradford in the north, with the western boundary taking in Rochdale and Oldham, but excluding Manchester City Centre. This area does theoretically have very good Regional TV News-services, with ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight giving over 35% coverage of Greater Manchester and East Lancashire west of the Pennine watershed, and for western West Yorkshire and north-east Derbyshire viewers get some 35% coverage of West Yorkshire from ITV1 News Calendar (North version) and from BBC1 Look North (Leeds). However, what is local to folk changes gradually over distance, not suddenly with folk just east of the Pennines suddenly only being interested in happenings to the east. To that end, this area identifies as “North” not “North West” England, even though East Lancashire and Greater Manchester are in the English North West. Northern Derbyshire may, by strict definition, be in the English Midlands but the identity of local folk and the feel of the area (with the Peak District in it) is very much “Northern England”. There may be good mainstream Regional TV News-services nearby that cover individual counties very well, but in terms of good all-round local news provision with coverage across transmission boundaries (so that folk in, say, Oldham get to know about major happenings in Huddersfield- just 19 miles away, and vice versa) the set-up of Regional TV provision leaves much to be desired.
Specifically, it is those locations just west of the Pennine divide between east and west who would want to hear about West Yorkshire, as parts of East Lancashire and easternmost Greater Manchester were part of the historic West Riding of Yorkshire, and communities such as around Todmorden and Saddleworth have strong links eastwards. If viewers wish to be able to watch ITV1 News Calendar (North) or BBC1 Look North (Yorkshire), they can. On the eastern outskirts of Manchester it is almost impossible to get a signal from the Emley Moor transmission mast that carries ITV1 News Calendar or BBC1 Look North, however BBC Look North (Yorkshire) can be found on Sky TV Channel number 956 at 6.30 pm on week-days and ITV1 News Calendar (North version) is loaded on to the ITV1 Calendar website about two hours after being broadcast live on week-days (details of website here: https://www.itv.com/news/calendar). Viewers in western West Yorkshire can get news about nearby Lancashire, Greater Manchester and even South Cumbria from BBC1 North West Tonight on Sky TV Channel number 958, or if one only wants news about nearby Greater Manchester then there’s Manchester TV (here: https://uklocal.tv/manchester-tv/). There are certainly ways and means of circumventing the hard transmission border down the Lancashire-Greater Manchester/ Yorkshire border!
WEST CUMBRIA: Cumbrian viewers have ITV1 Border Lookaround at 6.pm every week-day that provides extremely good local news-coverage, and those who live in North and West Cumbria can also get bespoke Cumbrian news off That’s TV Cumbria from Freeview Channel 8 at 6.pm on week-days (Website details here: http://www.thats.tv/cumbria/). One would advise viewers to stick with these for their local and Regional TV News if they live in West Cumbria. That is because West Cumbria, which borders the Irish Sea, also gets BBC1 Regional programming from Newcastle-upon-Tyne with BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria). Over eighty percent of the coverage is about North East England or North Yorkshire and is not at all local or directly relevant for folk who live in places like Whitehaven, Egremont or Keswick.
On the other hand, ITV Border’s Lookaround, which covers Cumbria extremely well in its coverage, does recognise that Cumbria is in the North West of England in its coverage, even as it covers southern Scotland and (occasionally) parts of Northumberland for the benefit of North Cumbrian viewers- and indeed for its viewers just north of the Scottish Border. If you live in West Cumbria, and want wider coverage across North West England then BBC1 North West Tonight is available on Sky TV Channel 958. If you don’t have Sky TV BBC1 North West Tonight is available on BBC I Player on the Internet at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006pfjx. The evening’s programme is usually loaded about 8.pm, about one-and-a-half hours after being aired live. Watching ITV Border’s Lookaround, then BBC1 North West Tonight provides West Cumbrians- who have an interest in the wider North West of England- with the best geographic and Regional appropriate all-round news-coverage.
West Cumbrian viewers of Regional TV who choose to boycott BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) and switch over to That’s TV Cumbria and ITV Border Lookaround would do well to tell the Newcastle-based Look North that this is what they are doing- and why (namely that 85% coverage of North East England is quite inappropriate for West Cumbria). The email address to white to BBC1 Look North (NE/Cumbria) is email@example.com. Only when the relevant BBC Regional TV News- providers that serve Cumbria lose Cumbrian viewers because of geographically- inappropriate “local” news coverage are they likely to sit up and really do something about it!
CHESHIRE, NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE/ SHROPSHIRE AND NORTH-EAST WALES: This is a large and distinct region sandwiched between the M62 Corridor and Manchester to the north, the Peak District to the east and the built-up areas of the West Midlands Region to the south (the M54 marks the southern edge of this region). To the west this large region is bordered by the Snowdonia Mountains of North Wales, and this whole area is home to almost two million people. Most people living in this area would identify more with North West England than the Midlands and will tend to travel to Manchester or Liverpool to go to the airport, go on major shopping trips (should they not get what they require locally or online), or to get vital surgery should they fall really ill, rather than travel to Brirmingham. This is not surprising when one considers, for instance, that the distance from Oswestry in North Shropshire, to Liverpool is just 47 miles by road, whereas it is 66 miles from Oswestry to Birmingham. People living in north-east Wales are also much closer to Manchester and Liverpool then to Cardiff or Swansea, so their natural regional affiliation will be to Manchester or Liverpool (despite the fact that they live in Wales).
Likewise, viewers of Regional TV want news about what is happening locally and their regional preferences for news align with their regional affiliations- that is where they travel to go to the airport, major shopping trips, commuting, etc. Thus viewers, if they live in Wem or Shawbury in North Shropshire, don’t want lots of news about Birmingham, Coventry and Worcester whilst missing major happenings just over the border into Cheshire or North Wales! Likewise, viewers in Rhyl or Llangollen don’t want 85% coverage of South Wales, little local news and nothing of just over the border into Cheshire.
Happily, for viewers in northern Staffordshire, northern Shropshire and north-east Wales they can get both ITV1 Granada Reports and BBC1 North West Tonight from the Winter Hill transmitter (north of Bolton), which can be picked up from a TV aerial pointed north from as far south as Telford in Shropshire and the transmission signal is strong along the North Wales Coast as far west as Llandudno. Since ITV1 Granada Reports covers the south of North West England (that’s Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire) best that would be better for geographic-appropriate news-coverage for locations not far to the north. One could, if they wished, then watch BBC Midlands Today later on BBC I Player to find out what is happening to the south. However, viewers want local news and there are local TV services that provide it. Viewers in North Staffordshire will be happy to know of the existence of North Staffs TV, which has lots of news-clips and information about happenings in and around Stoke-on-Trent- details here: https://northstaffstv.com/. It is a not-for-profit organisation providing Local TV news. There are details on the website about viewing it and if viewers in North Staffordshire there watched that, in conjunction with ITV1 Granada Reports they would get a lot more local news than by sticking with ITV1 News Central (West version). Viewers in Shropshire have no dedicated Local TV News-service so the BBC Shropshire website is the best source of really local and county-specific news (details here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/england/shropshire). In North Shropshire locals would get the best mix of all-round and local news from ITV1 Granada Reports, the BBC Shropshire website and North Wales TV (details below).
Viewers in North Wales have North Wales TV (which, with Freeview can be watched on Freeview Channel 8): This is a is news-service focussed on North Wales, details here : https://uklocal.tv/north-wales-tv/. That is a much more appropriate local and Regional TV service as viewers stand a much higher chance of hearing about things happening within 50 miles of their communities! A wider Regional picture of news that is more relevant than BBC1 Wales Today or ITV1 Wales at Six can be got from ITV1 Granada Reports– since that would be much more in keeping with the regional affiliation of folk living in north-east Wales. Viewers in Cheshire can also watch North Wales TV, which can be viewed direct from the website, in order to keep up with what is happening just over the Welsh border, though options for finding out what is happening in Cheshire are limited. The BBC Stoke & Staffordshire (here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/england/stoke_and_staffordshire) and BBC Liverpool (here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/england/merseyside) websites cover different parts of Cheshire and, of course, North Staffs TV is of interest if one lives in central and South Cheshire and one wishes to know what is happening a bit further south (details above). There’s the Facebook-based Crewe TV Channel 2 for news and clips that local folk in the Crewe area can join and which provides lots of local news (details here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CreweTVChannel2) but it is not a bona-fide Regional TV News-service.
There is enough of local news outlets and local (semi-TV) channels and websites that if local folk- who live in the huge area between Warrington and Wolverhampton- wish to seek out more localised content they can. They can then give the mainstream BBC and ITV.Plc Regional TV services the heave-ho in sufficient numbers to make the mainstream Regional TV programmers sit up and have a serious re-think about the geography of their transmission areas, how well different areas are covered and- as appropriate- have overlap zones at the edge of transmission boundaries of the TV Regions they manage.
ITV and BBC1 Regional News-programmers in Birmingham and in Cardiff would also be given a shock if they learn’t that viewers are abandoning their programmes for other Regional TV outlets that provide a more geographic-appropriate mix for viewers! That might be no bad thing if it prompts a discussion as to whether viewers are in the right TV Regions, or whether it is appropriate to set up new TV Regions such as another version of BBC1 North West Tonight covering northern Staffordshire, Shropshire, NE Wales and Cheshire. But for Cheshire and Shropshire there are no really local TV News services per-se: The whole area at the southern margins of North West England extending into north-east Wales is poorly represented as a special area in its own right, and scrabbling around on the Internet to find You Tube or Internet based local news websites is unacceptable for a region with almost two million inhabitants altogether. Perhaps the time has come for a group with media and communication expertise to come together to produce more local Community TV services.
There are a lot of folk across the entire northern half of the British Isles who are poorly-served by their Regional TV News-services, the transmission areas of which they are put into by the BBC and ITV.Plc. There are at least six million inhabitants who live in all the large regions of Scotland, the Isle of Man and northern England covered above, in which the mainstream Regional TV services serving them provide news about places that are miles away whilst providing little local coverage and none about places that may still be local but that are the other side of Regional TV transmission boundaries. Viewers however weald little influence unless they know where to find local TV News-services and Websites that provide “local TV news”, or in some cases switch to adjacent BBC or ITV Regional News-services: Then they can bring influence to bear on the main Regional TV News-producers by credibly threatening to go elsewhere. It is to be hoped that this article, pointing out that there are widespread deficiencies in Regional TV coverage for many folk in many (mainly rural) areas whilst showing where viewers can go to get more geographic-appropriate all-round Local News-coverage might precipitate wider local, regional and political movements to address Regional TV News- provision: Such movements would ideally make Local and Regional TV services better align with the regional affiliations, interests and concerns of the communities that they purport to serve!