CRTC ruling notwithstanding, Sun News and its campaign for subsidies will continue

Sun News Network gets ready to take Phase II of its campaign for subsidies on the road. Actual action plans by the right-wing broadcaster in light of the CRTC’s denial Wednesday of free cash from consumers and a favourable location on the TV tuner may not turn out to be exactly as illustrated. Below: Sun TV VP Kory Teneycke, commentator Ezra Levant.

Canadians troubled by the loony right Sun News Network’s tireless campaign for “mandatory carriage” on cable TV and the forced subsidies from consumers that would have gone with it are entitled to feel some satisfaction at this week’s ruling by the federal broadcast regulator denying Sun TV’s demands.

But opponents of Sun’s style of gutter broadcasting should not assume the ruling Thursday by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is the end of the network’s campaign to bury its snout in the public trough.

Don’t imagine for a moment that without cash from mandatory carriage Sun News Network is going away, as Vice-President Kory Teneycke and other network officials repeatedly promised during their campaign to bully the CRTC into supporting Sun’s bid to dip into cable-subscribers’ pockets, or that their demands for a more favourable ruling are likely to slacken even momentarily.

No sooner had the CRTC’s decision been announced than Sun News unblushingly changed its story, vowing to continue its fight for subsidies and a better position on the tuner for its dogmatic ideological bias, dubious facts and at-times hateful commentary.

In a story in yesterday’s Edmonton Sun headlined “Sun News battles on,” the parliamentary bureau reporter for the self-described “plucky, upstart news channel” and its newspaper arm noted that the CRTC’s decision “lays out a proposal for a new category of licenses for Canadian all-news channels” that may solve SNN’s problem with the flaccid market for market-fundamentalist bromides and hateful on-air rants.

“We intend to participate fully in those proceedings and will continue to operate pending an outcome,” said Mr. Teneycke, who by no coincidence was once Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s communications director.

In this regard, the defiance of the network and its parent, Quebecor Inc., may very well be justified.

Elsewhere in the same edition of the paper, commentator Michael Coren proclaimed, “the Sun shines on” – or, at any rate, it is said here, to adopt the American vernacular, the Sun will continue to shine you on.

Mr. Coren adopted the whining tone typical of thwarted ideologues in such circumstances, claiming the network called “Fox News North” by supporters and opponents alike is a spunky little challenger of the political and economic establishment it in fact represents, and that it speaks for tens of thousands of people it in reality does not, including many Christians.

It would be fair to say Mr. Coren was engaging in habitual behaviour when he used the article to equate the views of all Christians with his particular take on Christianity. His appears to be a branch of the religion that has devalued to base metal the Golden Rule prescribed by Jesus when he said, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”

But then, this is a rhetorical technique not so different from that of all Sun News commentators when they claim their angry and tiresome screeds are somehow equivalent to the efforts of the CBC!

Still, Mr. Coren was right when he stated that Sun News and its incessant demands for favourable rulings from the Government of Canada are not going to go away.

With all thus brouhaha, it’s important to note ample funding has been available and likely remains available for the network – from the same sources that finance Canada’s vast network of market-fundamentalist think tanks, Astro-Turf groups and institutionalized laundries for corporate political donations.

Indeed, it seems likely that at the main goal of Sun News Network’s campaign was not so much the paltry $17 million the network claims to be losing and that mandatory carriage would have replenished, as the favourable and accessible place on the TV tuner it would have given the network’s offerings.

So it is said here this fight was as much about encouraging larger numbers of Canadians to stumble upon Sun’s broadcasts – and, perchance, to believe them – as it was about cash.

So, for a little longer, Sun News commentators like Ezra Levant will have to work a harder to reach and retain their audience.

Speaking of Mr. Levant, it is interesting to speculate on how much his unsavoury and occasionally sinister rants, like his racist diatribe against the Roma people in September 2012 or his obscenity-laden attacks on a corporate executive who failed to toe his line on bitumen exports, may have hurt his employer’s application.

Mr. Teneycke has publicly defended Mr. Levant’s notorious rant about the Roma, barricading himself inside Sun’s “message box” while doing his best to sound contrite about it. In an interview last March, he refused to acknowledge the patently racist intentions of Mr. Levant’s remarks while suggesting they were merely meant to be satirical!

As noted here at the time, anyone who heard the original nine-minute episode of Mr. Levant’s program would find this explanation hard to square with what was actually said. Unfortunately, readers will be hard pressed to confirm that now, since Sun News long ago washed all copies of Mr. Levant’s screed down the corporate Memory Hole and a recording placed on Youtube.com by a third party was removed “due to a copyright claim by Sun News Network.”

It is probably impossible to know how much, or even if, Mr. Levant’s exertions hurt the Sun News Network application. It seems self-evident, however, that they can’t have helped it very much.

Regardless, as we have seen, the network’s efforts to win a better platform for his on-air propaganda are not likely to abate, and citizens who accept such Canadian values as fairness, tolerance and decency will have little choice but to remain on guard.

This post also appears on Rabble.ca.

17 Comments on "CRTC ruling notwithstanding, Sun News and its campaign for subsidies will continue"

  1. Barbara Dauerty says:

    Fox News North the Sun Times seems. Isn’t there a Canadian equivalent of the Koch brothers who can buy the network and sink propagandizing funds into it, saving the viewers’ purses, while ensuring that it is nearly impossible to miss whatever obscene message network performers want to project? Does Sun News Network engage in any actual journalism by, say, inviting critical responses from its audience?

  2. jerrymacgp says:

    I wonder how long this ruling will stand. The Harper Cons have overruled the CRTC before, most notably with respect to foreign ownership of mobile telephony providers; who’s to say they won’t overrule the agency again in favour of its media darling Sun News? Stay tuned …

  3. anonymous says:

    I sometimes watch Sun tv in the way that an anthropologist might examine dysfunctional tribal behaviour. A small minority of the tribe insists that their view is the only view. And they will do anything, *anything*, to impose that view on others, even if it means destroying the cohesion of the tribe.

    When I was kid, my family moved to the country. As a scrawny ‘city kid’ , injected into a country school, I became a favourite target of bullies. Teachers tried to control the situation, but when they weren’t looking, I (and others) would receive a good punch or two. Fortunately for me, I was a fast runner and could outrun all the bullies during recess and lunch times.

    With the Harperites in power, I feel the same way that I did as the ‘city kid’ in that country school. The past has become the present. And the problem for all Canadians now is the same problem that the teachers faced in the past: how to control the bullies? It would be helpful to learn to run faster. But all Canadians, regardless of their running ability, must ‘stand on guard’, always.

  4. Filostrato says:

    I watched Teneycke’s comments on the news yesterday – with an economy-sized barrel of Gravol at the ready should I require it. I’ve watched him defend the indefensible for years and he never seems to tire of it. The adjective mealy-mouthedsprings to mind whenever I see him. Oleaginous is pretty good, too.

    How must Ezra Levant look back on his career of failed enterprises, each shorter-lived and more dodgy than the one before? (Whatever happened to the EzraCruise? I haven’t checked it out recently. Did it sail on time with a full complement of like-minded souls?)

    Michael Coren looks as if he is dissolving inwardly from dyspepsia and gall. I shall leave him to his self-liquefaction. (Reminds me of a joke for some reason. A skeleton goes into a bar and asks for a pint of beer and a mop…).

    Tim Harper had a very kind take on Sun News in the Toronto Star. He must be mellowed out by the summery weather.

    Sun News never altered the political landscape in Canada as it had bravely vowed, and if it provided “straight talk” to the country’s conservative echo chamber, it was largely comprised of talking heads screaming at the walls.

    That list of Con movers and shakers on DaveBerta’s blog is pretty scary. And the Globe and Mail still prints pieces by Tom “The Wiz” Flanagan. Go figure…

  5. Northern Loon says:

    So now the braying talking heads that comprise the ‘talent’ of Canada’s sun-of-fox pseudo news will have yet another bone to gnaw, gnash and cry over. I can hear them now, complaining to empty rooms of the liberal elites who are out to silence them, their ever strident howls of how ‘unfair’ the CRTC is, and how only they have the ability to present truthyness. They and their limited viewership will mutter and howl about conspiracies while the vast majority may look askance at the sun-of-fox types braying at the moon, but will go on with their lives and search for real purveyors of news.

    Unfortunately, those that do watch sun-of-fox version of are those who are close to, and who have an inordinate voice with the Stephen Harper Conservatives, or in Alberta, the Danielle Steele (whoops) Wildrose types.

    If I want to watch over-hyped opinionated pseudo news and rants then give me Rick Mercer, Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, but leave sun-of-fox where it belongs, perching in the nosebleed section of the TV stratosphere, so that it may wither and, paraphrasing (and bastardizing) the immortal tone and voice of the Who – stop trying to cause a big sensation and ffffade away before they get old.

  6. Joe Albertan says:

    This is a very biased and one sided article. You fail to mention that CBC receives a $1 billion annual subsidy, something no other network receives in Canada. If your goal is for a level playing field, I trust you will be advocating for CBC to stop receiving this amount of taxpayer dollars so all networks can compete equally.

    • Sherry Bellamy says:

      CBC owns and Operates 31 television stations, including Radio Canada. They own and operate four specialty cable stations.  They own and operate  32 Radio One radio stations. They own and operate 14 Radio Two radio stations. They own and operate 20 Premiere Chaine radio stations.  They own and operate 20 Espace Musique radio stations. They own 40% of Sirius Radio. They maintain an extensive Internet presence with regularly updated local pages associated with each station, as well as CBC.ca. They operate and maintain a fleet of mobile production facilities. They own and operate four broadcast centers which also generate revenue as venues and rental production facilities.  

      CBC/Radio-Canada broadcasts in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages on its domestic radio service, and in five languages on its web-based international radio service, Radio Canada International (RCI).

      Now substitute “we” for “CBC”. We own the CBC. It’s a Canadian asset, and one to support and to be proud of, according to the vast majority of Canadians. CBC is here to stay, and is worth every penny.

      • Filostrato says:

        Bravo!

        (And I don’t mean the cable TV station, either.)

      • John Moore says:

        I’ve never read something so out of touch. The services CBC provides are provided by the private sector. Why do we waste $1 billion annually to subsidize something that has outlived its usefulness?

        The government has no business in broadcasting. Abolish the CBC now.

        • Bruce A says:

          What CBC provides in something that’s more in-depth than anything we receive from the grossly overrated ‘private sector’. Since when did the ‘private sector’ get a monopoly for covering news? As Lloyd Robertson said on Allan Gregg at TVO, there’s plenty of room for both public and private broadcasters. After all, private sector zealots are always braying about ‘competition’. Well, here’s the competition!

          For myself, I watch both and prefer CBC because they’re just better at holding government accountable. That’s not to say the private sector is lousy, Bob Fife at CTV has done yeoman’s service on the Senate spending scandal, but the more voices the better, say I. What we really need is a CBC upgrade to make comparable to the BBC.

        • Joe Albertan says:

          I agree with John. The CBC was put in at a time when there was little other choice for media. It has served its purpose and I wonder why we’re still subsidizing it. If it’s so great, let it compete with private broadcasters without subsidy.

          Sherry is completely out of touch.

        • Henri says:

          The CBC is a traditional Canadian cooperative effort to make our society a better place. Alberta was the source of much of this type of effort starting with Wheat Pools before there was an Alberta. At the height of the dirty thirties, hospitals fully staffed with doctors and nurses were funded by farmers in the poorest municipalities of the province to provide medical care to anyone who needed it.

          With the complete collapse of the capitalist system in 2008 (remember most of those government deficits have come as a result of bailing out the banks) we need government mandated organizations like the CBC more than ever simply because we now know the private sector is just not reliable and often suicidally short sighted.

  7. Sherry Bellamy says:

    As always, a succinct and thoughtful analysis. SNN is a blight on the Canadian media landscape, but like the tarsands, I fear it’s a toxic blight that’s here to stay. If there is a bright spot on the horizon, it’s that the more people who view the broadcasts or read the articles and comments online, the more people will realize that the fans of this tripe dwell in the fringiest suburbs of wingnutistan, where the sane fear to tread. I live in hope.

  8. John Moore says:

    The sane fear to tread on blogs like this that belong in Soviet-era Russia.

    • Sherry Bellamy says:

      Yes indeed. “The blogs of Soviet-era Russia”. When neither “Russia” nor “blogs” existed.

    • K. Larsen says:

      I do not hear Ms. Smith’s Wildly Rose Party complaining about socialism as the Alberta government cuts checks to flood victims and sets up the first western Canadian refugee camp for climate change victims at High River.

  9. Reader says:

    I do not need to agree with everything Mr Climenhaga writes to recognize the value of his opinion. His posts are rational and often entertaining. His perspective is seldom represented in other forums and this fact makes him a must read for me. Keep up the good work Mr Climenhaga and good luck in the election.

Comment