It’s your region

Thursday, September 25, 2008 by

A woman on the Today programme this morning insisted Lookaround was her favourite thing on TV.

Looks like trouble...

Looks like trouble...

That’s Lookaround as in Border Television’s early evening regional news magazine. A few other residents of Carlisle were also interviewed, and the majority testified stubbornly to appreciating this long-running showcase for colourful people with a story to tell.

The reason for their ire? Ofcom’s decision to allow ITV to axe some regional bulletins and cut back regional programming by 50%, in the process merging some long-standing shows and creating new ‘super-regions’. Under the proposals Border would join Tyne Tees and share the 6pm half hour regional news slot. Presumably they’d get 15 minutes each. Not enough, the woman argued, to cover the things that matter to citizens of Cumbria and the Lowlands.

There can’t be many who think like her, though. Surely the stock of the ITV regional magazine has never been lower. By contrast, the BBC’s regional efforts are, and have been for quite a while, at the top of their game. I can’t help thinking ITV should try and cut its losses completely and get out of doing regional stuff entirely. No service at all is better than an undignified, half-arsed one.


7 Responses to “It’s your region”

  1. Steve Williams on September 25th, 2008 6:03 pm

    I was in Hull yesterday, and if anywhere illustrates the differing approaches to regional television by the two companies it’s here. The Beeb have a shiny building right in the middle of the city centre, with an open door policy. Everyone knows it’s there and the Corporation is, rightly, putting itself among the people.

    Meanwhile, round the back of a shopping centre, Yorkshire Television have a dingy office, still branded as Yorkshire Television (though nice to still see the chevron, of course) and despite a couple of Calendar posters, it seems not to have been touched for about twenty years. It looked completely deserted.

    Yet it was never like this, your ITV company used to be all over the place and, in my patch of Granadaland, was loads more swaggering and glamorous than the Beeb. Given how many viewers the teatime regional shows pull in – and they certainly do, the cumulative audience for the Beeb’s regional news bulletins is I think the highest of any news programme of any channel – and what a valuable slot it is, surely it makes sense to really go to town with them?

  2. Chris Hughes on September 26th, 2008 12:43 pm

    Border’s a strange example to use against these proposals, because it’s such an artificial creation – a bit of Scotland, a bit of Cumbria and the Isle Of Man. If anyone proposed that bizarre arrangement now, everyone would be up in arms. Presumably it’s a testament to Lookaround that it manages to satisfy everyone.

    I’m sort of in agreement with Ian – if ITV can’t be bothered to do them, we might as well just bite the bullet and scrap them now, rather than limping on with half-hearted bulletins from pointless megaregions before this issue crops up again in five years or so. In return, though, they should be obliged to spend the money they save on making more drama, films and comedy.

  3. Rob Williams on September 30th, 2008 11:31 am

    Its time to get rid of local programming, because when ITV had its golden age regions only had very short news broadcasts and now people can get via various sources to get their news. Go back to basics Michael Grade, make uncle Lew proud.

  4. Chris Orton on October 1st, 2008 8:26 am

    This proposed merging of Tyne Tees with Border is quite, quite mad. Why would I, as a resident of south Durham, possibly be interested in what is going on in Douglas, Peel, or Ballabeg? And more importantly, what on earth would the residents of Douglas, Peel, or Ballabeg want to see reports about Bishop Auckland, Saltburn and Knaresborough for? Madness.

  5. Richie J Haworth on October 1st, 2008 11:40 am

    But it’s just a case of giving you a bigger region, I’m not really bothered knowing what people in Prestatyn or Wrexham are up to, but ITV Wales covers the whole of Wales, so thats just the way it is. I’m sure they would prefer to be linked with Granadaland.

  6. Richie J Haworth on October 1st, 2008 11:41 am

    What I think I’m saying, is that geaography is geography and you won’t please everyone all the time.

  7. Glenn Aylett on November 20th, 2008 9:30 pm

    Lookaround has been so starved of cash in recent years it’s become unwatchable and I’m sure this is a plan hatched in London to make it so bad local viewers will desert it. It’s a shame to see it go after 47 years, but its slow death by ITV PLC is part of a wider plan at ITV to concentrate resources on mass audience crap like I’m A Celebrity which I wouldn’t watch if you paid me but obviously keeps ITV’s core audience of Sun readers happy.