ITV have today submitted a proposal to OFCOM over reinstating 30 minute Border region only Lookaround programme.
Pam Royle, host of both ITV Border’s Lookaround and ITV Tyne Tees’ North East Tonight.
The Border region which covers most of Cumbria, Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, merged with Tyne Tees in February 2009 with Border’s studios being demolished. A small bureau was set up in Carlisle and reporters were based there or around the region filming and editing reports themselves.
In the Borders familiar reporters based here include Kathryn Samson and Jenny Longden. The programme is presented from studios in Gateshead, fronted by Tyne Tees Stalwarts Pam Royle and Ian Payne. The First fifteen minutes of the programme cover the stories of the Border region (Tyne Tees have their own fifteen minute opt with the same presenters), The final fifteen minutes see itv NEWS Lookaround and itv NEWS Tyne Tees (formally North East Tonight) come together live and feature pan-regional stories covering both the Border and Tyne Tees regions.
ITV Border Journalist Hannah McNulty tweeted at lunchtime today: “ITV have submitted plans to Ofcom to restore a full half hour dedicated news programme for Border region and a weekly current affairs prog.”
Ofcom are setting out options for the area, after themselves along with the Culture Secretary Maria Miller where concerned with the coverage in the area, with a particular focus on poor coverage in Southern Scotland, compared to the rest of Scotland.
In a consultation document Ofcom sets out two potential options:
• Restoring a dedicated news service for the former Border TV region, similar to the one provided until 2009, along with a weekly current affairs programme dedicated to the area.
• Restoring the news service and putting in place an obligation to show 90 minutes of other regional programmes every week. These could be bought from STV.
A third option has been rumoured numerous times about the Scottish part of Border being given to STV. However this has cooled. STV covers the remainder of Scotland with three news programmes for the North, Glasgow and the West and Edinburgh and the East, as well as this they air ‘Scotland Tonight’ Monday-Thursday evenings which talk about the big news and political stories. On the BBC Reporting Scotland are broadcast nationwide with no local or regional opt out, which does mean the Borders does struggle to feature in their bulletins also.
In the Border region, despite the cut backs in recent years Lookaround remains one of only two ITV regional news programmes that is better than the BBC alternative.
The talks and consultation closes on 2 May. Any changes are likely to come into force by the start of 2015 at the latest. The BBC North East and Cumbria programme, Look North, has for the majority of its life – launching in 1964 with Mike Neville as host – been shared between two regions, however there was a spell when the Newcastle based programme aired just to the North East; with Cumbria served by the North West BBC regional news service from Manchester. Unlike ITV, Cumbria has never had a dedicated beeb service just for the region.