ITV Border – better known in Cumbria as Border Television – is set to have its own half hour regional news show Lookaround restored to the schedules in September.
It follows a merger with the Tyne Tees Television region and North East Tonight in 2008. Since the late 1990s ITV has slowly been cutting away at its unique regional structure in order to make a national ITV service, one which is more profitable to shareholders of ITVplc.
The slashing of local programmes culminated in the Border area five years ago when its Carlisle based Lookaround was axed and a new service for the area aired from the North East and Tyne Tees’ studios in Gateshead.
Tim Backshall and Fiona Armstrong were dropped as main presenters, however were kept on in much reduced roles as Pam Royal and Ian Payne (pictured) hosted both Lookaround and North East Tonight for both regions. The new format saw fifteen minutes of news for the Border area before uniting for a pan North East and Cumbria service for the final fifteen minutes of the show.
At the time ITV noted that Lookaround still provided more local content to the area than rival BBC One programme Look North, which has always covered two regions since its launch in the sixties.
Tyne Tees Television covered the North East and North Yorkshire. Under ITV cuts it also began producing the news for the Border region.
Now as part of a licence renewal process by television regulator Ofcom the broadcaster has been asked to restore a full half-hour Lookaround progamme.
News and Star newspaper reports that the broadcasting body want ITV Border to increase the regional news and current affairs output for the area in order to ‘enhance’ the coverage of Scottish issues in the northern part of the Border area.
ITV get their highest ratings for regional news in the Border region, which is a real reflection on the community spirit round here and the passion for keeping in touch with what’s going on locally. It’s therefore only right that local residents get a regional news programme that matches that spirit and passion, – South Lakes MP Tim Farron
It was announced in February ITV had accepted the proposition to restore the news show.
ITV Border is recruiting journalists. We intend to expand our local output later this year. – ITV
It isn’t clear yet whether the programme will continue to be based in Gateshead or whether it will come from within the Border region. The local studio facilities of ITV at Durranhill, in Carlisle, were demolished when the broadcaster closed the site.
Border Television began broadcasting to the region in 1961, it provided many Cumbria flavoured and produced series over the years including chat shows, quiz programming and documentaries. Lookaround is one of the oldest ITV regional news brands still in use after over fifty years on air.