One of the most important public services provided by any regional broadcaster is the weather forecast. Detailed regional forecasts give a level of local information which complements the “big picture” in the national forecast.
It’s also a service which is hugely appreciated by viewers. The main weather presenters are an important part of each regional broadcasters’ public image.
The importance of the local weather forecast is even greater when severe weather is forecast.
The work of the on-screen forecasters in the areas of southern England affected by red weather alerts on Friday was remarkable and, arguably, more important in some respects than the work of the news teams.
Their work truly shows the importance of regional broadcasting – forecasters at BBC South West, BBC Wales, BBC London and the other worst affected areas deserve recognition.
Their work during Breakfast opts and at lunchtime on Friday in particular may have saved lives.
It’s worth looking at how much better the local service is now than it was during the Great Storm of 1987. At that time many BBC regions only gave a brief local weather forecast over a caption – even during their main early evening programmes.
The hard work was left to the national team as Michael Fish will never be allowed to forget!
Over on ITV, regional forecasters also did a vital job on Friday – there is actually some value in the local forecast inexplicably hidden away during This Morning at about 11.05am.
Again the on-screen weather service is generally better than it was in 1987 despite all the other changes for the worse in ITV’s English regions over the past 30 years.
Now that nearly all of the ITV network is controlled by ITV plc it is fair to ask if some parts of the country are getting a better deal than others.
Here, sadly, a criticism must be made of the weekend weather service in ITV’s UTV region.
In Northern Ireland viewers get an out-of-vision forecast at the weekend, read anonymously by a production journalist. At worst the words and graphics don’t always quite match.
In other ITV regions there is a normal in-vision local forecast. However the forecasts are recorded centrally at hubs which service a few regions each.
An in-vision forecast is much more engaging. Viewers in Northern Ireland deserve better.
Surely there are staff available at UTV who could get trained up to present the weekend forecasts effectively? Around 4 years ago UTV announcers Julian and Gillian briefly presented the weekend weather but this didn’t last.
Alternatively should the UTV forecast simply be provided by one of the hubs serving other ITV regions?
There’s definitely room for improvement.
PICTURED: BBC South West weather presenter, Emily Wood. COPYRIGHT: BBC.