BUSINESS

Ezra Levant 'Overwhelmed' By Support From Sun News Fans

02/13/2015 04:32 EST | Updated 04/15/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Ezra Levant says he's grateful for the freedom he had as an outspoken host on the shuttered Sun News Network, and while he doesn't know what he'll do next, he still has "a lot of things to say."

"I still have a point of view that some people like, some people don't like, but I think it has its place in the spectrum of opinion," said Levant, noting he was "overwhelmed" by feedback from fans.

"I think that people had a passionate response to the Sun, pro or con, that they didn't feel for all news channels."

Levant's provocative comments were sometimes a flashpoint for controversy on the conservative, 24-hour all-news channel. It went off the air early Friday after negotiations to sell the troubled channel were unsuccessful.

Dubbed "Fox News North" by critics, the station launched in early 2011 but faced an uncertain future in recent months after Postmedia Network Canada Corp. announced plans to purchase the Sun Media newspapers and websites from Quebecor. The Sun News channel was not included in the deal.

Reports said the closure affects about 150 full-time employees.

Though Levant was sad about the closure, he said he mainly he felt gratitude.

"Best job of my life with amazing people," he said. "It was a lively, independent, spirited place to work. I felt like the freest journalist in Canada."

The Calgary-born Levant is a columnist, author, lawyer and founder and former publisher of the Western Standard.

As host of Sun News Network's evening talk show "The Source," he generated much controversy.

In June 2012, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ordered him to apologize on air for telling a Spanish banana executive, in Spanish, to have sex with his own mother.

The following March he apologized to the Roma community after on-air remarks that prompted a hate-crime investigation.

And last September Sun Media apologized to Justin Trudeau after Levant's monologue about the Liberal leader and a wedding photo he appeared in.

Asked Friday if he still wants to be on-air, Levant pointed to the possibility of working in the online realm.

He noted the Internet doesn't come with the same regulatory hurdles Sun News Network faced. (In 2013, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission announced the channel didn't meet the criteria for mandatory carriage.)

"My most popular show I ever did on the Sun News Network was a series of videos I did that went viral," said Levant.

"When we actually aired those shows, maybe I had, say at most, 50,000 viewers on TV. But I did a series of shows that got over 300,000 or 400,000 views each on the Internet."

As for why Sun News Network didn't work, he said he wasn't an expert on such matters but felt "it was certainly not for lack of ideas or enthusiasm."

"We elicited a passionate response from those who liked and disliked us, and I think we had a disproportionate impact on the country.

"We were a small, niche news channel on channel 1 million, but we always seemed to be what people were talking about."

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