Today, the Sun News Network (SNN) made its final pitch to the federal telecommunications regulator. The fledgling cable news network has an audience as wide as Ezra Levant's narrow mind. The Quebecor-owned network is seeking help in the form of "mandatory carriage" from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Mandatory carriage means all of Canada's cable and satellite TV providers would be required to include Sun News on their TV packages.
Some at the CRTC hearings have suggested a softer designation: there is a "must offer" option which gives TV-cable and satellite customers the freedom to choose whether or not to subscribe to Sun News.
But that option doesn't seem to float SNN's boat. Sun News executive Kory Teneycke frowns on the "subscribers are free to choose" licence.
"Let us be very clear: a 'must-offer' licence would not have a meaningful impact on the current trajectory of Sun News and would inevitably lead to the closure of the station," Teneycke said.
It seems SNN strategists believe that the Canadian consumer would not choose the channel foes have baptized "Fox News North" if given the chance to. The Canadian TV viewers who can pick from a wide roster of channels might very well choose the status quo.
Sun News doesn't just want a limited-period, one-time shot -- they want a "guaranteed spot on the dial". Without this government
handout hand up, the conservative-leaning channel would simply cease to exist, they say.
It makes a lot of sense.
It is hard to start at the bottom. Contending with competitors with inherited advantage, years of on-the-ground experience, a well-stocked rolodex of friends and contacts and, in some cases, generations in head-starts.
Governments have recognized the playing field is often uneven for the new kids on the block or for those who have always been there but never got a seat at the table. That situation is what compelled the United States to implement Affirmative Action at a time when women and minorities were missing from the roster of national institutions. In Canada, the Brian Mulroney government of the 1980s installed employment equity to engage in proactive employment practices to increase the representation of women and visible minorities (among other designated groups).
Is there a cost to all this? Yes. Sun News wants every household that subscribes to a basic cable or satellite package to contribute 18 cents/month. It is a socialist concept Canadians know well: making everyone pay a small fee to help the disadvantaged members of the group afloat. In theory, the springboard levels the playing field. Or at least it makes it less uneven.
"Our plan would allow Sun News to establish an audience under similar rules and regulations to those afforded [the established networks]," the company said in filings to the CRTC.
There is something quite ironic about a network that regularly manipulates information to deliver an agenda that is anti-big government, anti-handouts, anti-regulation, anti-bailout, anti-immigrant, vulture-capitalist -- now begging for a socialist solution to their shortfall.