Sun News Network is trying to force mandatory carriage on cable systems across the country -- despite objective facts (subscribers, ratings) that show that the channel has been a failure, including with its intended core audience.
I'm writing this with a bit of a heavy heart. As a supporter of diversity in (news) media, and sometime collaborator with Sun News Network, it pains me to write this, but I don't think that the CRTC should give in to this application for mandatory carriage.
Styling itself as a non-left-wing alternative to CBC or CTV, Quebecor, the owner of Sun News Network, moved heaven and earth to launch a third news network. But instead of catering to Canadian conservatives, the channel has over time come to adopt the rabid and extreme Tea Party conservatism/libertarianism from the U.S.
Many conservatives in Canada have been telling me that they no longer tune in to Sun News, because "this is Canada and not bloody America." The time of last year's presidential election in the U.S. was especially detrimental to Sun News, as its hosts embraced extremist Republican/Tea Party candidates, such as Rick Santorum. No Canadian conservative would ever support or vote for such people.
That Sun News now wants to rely on government to force its way into living rooms will surely make even more conservatives reach for the remote control. A news channel that purports to stand for small government and a free market economy cannot possibly use the government's shoehorn and still hope to be taken seriously.
Quebecor has failed to migrate its success in Quebec (TVA is the most popular network in Quebec and produces more home-grown content than any other network in Canada) to the rest of the country.
Rather than running a news channel, Quebecor should have stuck with its original general-entertainment Sun TV concept and tried to bring it to TV screens across Canada. Using the resources of TVA, it should have produced English versions of TVA's biggest hits, interspersing the schedule with (conservative) news and/or talk shows.
This would have been an effective use of resources, and would have provided an ideal outlet for certain political talking heads (currently, only Brian Lilley is worth watching -- if he doesn't talk about abortion or other favourite issues among U.S. fundamentalists on the far right).
Getting only around 16,000 viewers a minute is abysmal, even by today's standards. The channel is available to almost all Canadian cable and satellite viewers, and if it were any good, people would order it from their local provider in larger numbers. But as things stand, Sun News has reached its zenith, and mandatory carriage wouldn't change that. It would only increase the number of complaints from viewers to their providers and the CRTC over being forced to pay for a channel they didn't want.
Sun Newsers are currently bombarding the social media with pleas for help from their viewers, pointing out that the channel produces almost 100 per cent Canadian content. Wrong, the programs that air on Sun News are Canadian-produced, but feature mostly American (i.e., Tea Party) content. As already pointed out, this does not qualify as "Canadian content."
Saying that Sun News has failed is not to be taken as a sign that conservative news reporting and commentary can't succeed in Canada. In fact, Sun News' failure merely illustrates that extremist forms of what some Americans consider "conservatism" won't fly in Canada. That so few Canadians watch the channel proves that U.S.-style Tea Party and libertarian ideas are anathema to the vast majority of Canadians.
If it wants to have a shot at greater viewership, Sun News will have to look closely at what it means to be conservative in Canada, and then adapt its style accordingly. It will also mean cutting its ties with most of its current on-air talent (Michael Coren, Charles Adler and Ezra Levant), as they seem to live in a make-believe world where Canadian conservatives are all about Christian fundamentalism and actually care about abortion or guns more than about their next paycheque.
It's time for Quebecor to put up or shut up.
The segment begins with Sun News anchors Pat Bolland and Alex Pierson, who introduce the reaffirmation ceremony. "Ten new Canadians are taking their oath right now, here, at our Sun News studio in Toronto," says Pierson.
Citizenship Judge Aris Babikian opens the ceremony and speaks about the meaning of citizenship in Canada.
"Citizenship is much more than a list of things we are allowed to do," Babikian says.
"It is a covenant between indivduals and the country they share."
"By reciting the oath, you are telling your neighbours, colleagues and friends, that you want to join them in creating something great," the judge continues.
"This is not a promise to be entered into lightly or for selfish reasons," the judge says.
Judge Babikian then asks the assembled to reaffirm the oath of citizenship.
Raising their hands, the group repeats after the judge: "I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors.."
"..and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen."
The group then repeats the oath in French.
Judge Babikan leads the group in an off-key rendition of O Canada.
The judge then gives a certificate to each of the 10 'new' Canadians. Says host Alex Pierson: "And congratulations to all the new Canadians here. Ten of you here at Sun News Network. Finally, Canadian citizens. Wonderful to have you."
Postmedia was born in 2010, when the bankrupt Canwest media chain was broken up. A consortium led by then-National Post CEO Paul Godfrey bought Canwest's newspaper assets, including the National Post, Ottawa Citizen and Calgary Herald, as well as both English-language dailies in Vancouver.<br> <br> Pictured: Postmedia CEO Paul Godfrey<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>
Torstar's flagship property is the Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper. It also owns the Metroland chain of weeklies and the internationally popular Harlequin, publisher of pulp romances.<br> <br> Pictured: The Toronto Star building in downtown Toronto.<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>
Western Canadian cable TV giant Shaw entered the media big leagues with the 2010 purchase of Canwest's broadcasting assets, including the Global TV network. The company was founded by Jim Shaw and is still controlled by his family.<br> <br> Pictured: CEO Brad Shaw<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em><br> <br> <em>CORRECTION: An earlier version of this slide stated that Shaw had purchased Canwest's newspaper assets. It only purchased the broadcasting assets. The company had backed out of an earlier attempt to buy three CTV stations.</em>
Founded by Pierre Peladeau and run by his son, Pierre-Karl Peladeau, Quebecor owns the Sun Media and Osprey newspaper chains, as well as cable provider Videotron, Quebec TV network TVA, and a number of publishing houses.<br> <br> Pictured: Pierre-Karl Peladeau<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>
Founded by Ted Rogers, Rogers Communications is a major player in cable TV and wireless services. The company controls Rogers Media, which operates 70 publications, 54 radio stations and a number of TV properties including CityTV and the Shopping Channel.<br> <br> Pictured: CEO Nadir Mohamed<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>
Woodbridge is the holding company owned by the billionaire Thomson family. It controls 55 per cent of Thomson Reuters, one of the world's largest news services organizations. Woodbridge's revenue is not reported, but Thomson Reuters reported revenue of $13.8 billion in 2011.<br> <br> Pictured: The late Kenneth Thomson, company chairman, in Toronto in 2003.<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>
BCE is one of Canada's largest corporations, and owns telephone, Internet and TV infrastructure. Its subsidary Bell Media purchased the CHUM group of radio stations in 2006, and Astral Media in 2012. The company also controls CTV, making it a dominant media player in Canada.<br> <br> <em>*Number denotes latest available revenue figure, for parent company</em>
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