Can 'Fox News North' win its next battle? -

Can ‘Fox News North’ win its next battle?

Sun TV’s Canadian-content promise might be its best selling feature



When Kory Teneycke announced, back in mid-June, that he would be heading up the proposed Sun TV network, he promised not to be boring. If Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former communications director meant he wouldn’t stay around long enough to grow stale, he was more than true to his word. Teneycke bowed out last week after just three months, saying his involvement contributed to “vicious and vitriolic” controversy over the proposed news-and-talk channel.

He hasn’t answered questions about his surprisingly fast exit, so precisely what aspect of the heated debate over the project drove him to quit so quickly isn’t yet clear. (The day before his announcement, a left-leaning activist organization called Avaaz said it had asked police to investigate who put fake names on its anti-Sun-TV online petition “Stop Fox News North.” Teneycke had admitted to some inside knowledge of who messed with the petition by signing up under the names of Canadian media personalities and fictional characters like Sesame Street’s Snuffleupagus.) Whatever his exact reason, Quebecor Media Inc. apparently doesn’t see any need to distance its Sun TV project from political players. Pierre Karl Pelédeau, the company’s conservative-minded president and chief executive, replaced Teneycke with Luc Lavoie—former prime minister Brian Mulroney’s long-time spokesman. Unlike Teneycke, Lavoie was a TV journalist before he was a partisan spinner, and he’s also a veteran Quebecor executive. Still, Lavoie’s media credentials from outside politics can’t erase the impression that the Sun TV venture is closely connected to insider Conservative circles.

But how the project’s high-profile linkages to generations of Tory leadership might boost its chances of succeeding is far from obvious. Pelédeau’s hope of duplicating in Canada the success of Fox News in the U.S. depends first on an application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. The federal regulator has scheduled a hearing for Nov. 19 on Quebecor’s request for a particular kind of licence for Sun TV—one that would guarantee the channel’s wide availability. “The broadcast policy issue is, is the commission going to make an exception for Sun TV?” said Jay Kerr-Wilson, a communications lawyer at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin in Ottawa. Kerr-Wilson’s prediction: “I think it’s highly unlikely.”

The trick is that Quebecor is seeking a type of licence that is fading out of existence. Back when CBC and CTV were launching their all-news channels, the CRTC required cable companies to make them very widely available. But the commission’s stance since 2008 has been that those news services are now well enough established to compete for viewers without such guarantees. So, starting next fall, distributors will be free to negotiate terms with CBC and CTV when it comes to packaging their existing news services with other specialty channels to sell them to subscribers.

Serge Sasseville, Quebecor’s vice-president of corporate and institutional affairs, says Sun TV needs a chance to establish itself. He says Quebecor is asking the CRTC to “make an exception” by requiring cable and satellite companies to at least offer Sun TV in bundles with other channels for up to three years, long enough for the new service to catch up to CBC News Network and CTV News Channel. “They were allowed to build their customer base,” Sasseville says, “and we’re asking the CRTC to level the playing field and let us do that, too.”

Insiders say the CRTC could hardly grant Sun TV that special consideration without also extending the favour to the existing all-news channels. “Is the commission going to modify its policy to create a general exception that applies to Sun TV, but that other services might fit into? I think that’s unlikely,” says Kerr-Williams. “Or are they going to hold the line, saying, ‘Everybody knew these were the rules—there’s nothing different about you.’ ”

But maybe there is something different about Sun TV. Suspicious observers point to those Conservative ties that are so unusual in the upper echelons of a news operation. The CRTC, however, is independent, and its chairman, Konrad von Finckenstein, recently declared that nobody in the government has approached him about Sun TV. And his commission left little doubt about its willingness to set its own direction last year, when it ruled that cellphone start-up Globalive didn’t meet Canadian ownership requirements, a decision Harper’s cabinet later overturned to support the government’s clear preference for more cell competition.

If the political cast of Quebecor’s pitch doesn’t sway the CRTC, another aspect of the Sun TV concept might—its promise to air nothing but Canadian programming. “That itself is a ‘wow,’ ” says Iain Grant, a Montreal-based communications industry analyst with the consulting firm SeaBoard Group. Given the CRTC’s policy of encouraging homegrown voices, Grant adds, the all-Canadian pledge might be reason enough to “welcome the application with open arms.” It could be that the best card Quebecor has to play in its bid to import an anti-government U.S. cable news formula is to appeal to a government regulator’s old penchant for Canadian content.


Can ‘Fox News North’ win its next battle?

  1. Who cares about the media hacks, Kory Teneycke sullied the reputation of Snuffleupagus and that's going way way waaaay over-the-top.

    CRTC Punishment – Sun Media denied license – 24 hour Sesame Street for all Canadians.

  2. I welcome SunTV to provide some counterpoint to the predominately left-leaning media in this country, which I find offensive propaganda, to which your magazine also contributes with my tax dollars!!

    • The truth has a liberal bias.

  3. Fedup, how in the world is Maclean's magazine using your tax dollars? And How is the media in this country even remotely left leaning? Here in BC at least, Canwest Global does not hold our Premier accountable for his drunk driving incident, nor the systematic dismantling of BC Hydro, nor blatantly lying about the HST, nor about recent appointing of a partisan individual to a non-partisan Elections BC job, just to name a few. Not even the so-called left wing CBC has gone near those issues, yet they seemingly regurgitate right wing press releases verbatim without any sort of questioning.

    • Um Tanya, you do know that Campbell is a Liberal? No matter how the Liberals want to call him a Conservative, he is part of the Big Red Tent…..there's a pattern here, now that Charest is on the hot seat for Judge tampering, the Liberal leaners are calling him a Conservative also. Rather childish… Anyhow, back to Tanya, now that we are straight that Campbell is a left Liberal, re-read your comment and try to tell us all again that the media does not lean left. seriously….

      • Cambpell is not a big red tent Liberal. To believe this is to willfully misunderstand BC politics. The BC Liberals are a coalition of Reform, Socreds, centre-right Liberals, and Conservatives. The BC Liberals are not in any way affiliated with the federal Liberal Party. Many of Campbell's key supporters and cabinet ministers, such as Richard Neufeld and Kevin Falcon, were drawn from the BC Reform Party; the key to his electoral success has always been uniting the fractured right, moderating it, and presenting it as centrist.

      • Gordon Campbell is about as "left Liberal" as Pinochet.

    • Magazine postal subsidies for one…

  4. Tanya, you really need a reality check. The majority of Canadians KNOW that 90% of the Canadian media is left of center or out right socialist (see the Star). What is so maddening is that Conservative Canadians, are sick and tired of their tax dollars going to the CBC which has become a Liberal propoganda machine.
    I don't know what color the sky is your world, but you should really try and get out more. We need Sun News…..NOW!!!!!

    • Do they? The majority of your friends maybe have been TOLD that 90% of the Canadian media is left of centre (Cdn spelling). But I think maybe you are looking from the American right (where everything in Canada is to the left). In Canada, the centre is more to the left than in the US.

      Now, you may like the American right rather than the more to the left Canadian right. That's fine, unless you are suggesting that Canada move its centre to accommodate you. Canada has always been more to the left, we did it on purpose, and for most of us, we like that. It's too bad if you think the Americans got it right (correct) and the Canadians got it wrong that you don't live there instead.

      • No leftwing bias?
        Compare the coverage of ex MP Jaffer's drunk driving media circus to the media blackout on sitting MP Pablo Rodriguez's DUI.
        The difference?
        One is conservative and one is liberal.

        Where is the coverage of Liberal MP Judy sgro stealing $100,000.00 from us in a rent expense scam?
        Seems like something that should be reported, compare that to the coverage that the fictional cracker in wafergate recieved.
        And that story wasn't even true…

      • What's annoying about the left is their ignorance. They believe it is only them that is smart, only them that knows what's best for everyone else. Therefore, anyone who disagrees is simply stupid or "sheep." Thing is we don't need to be told that the media is liberal, we can see it with our own eyes and hear it with our ears. It's the few conservative commentators that simply point out this fact. It's liberals who, in their inability to think that a conservative individual could ever be right without someone telling them, think that conservatives are followers rather than leaders.

        Liberals simply don't understand leadership and every conservative is by nature a leader, not a follower.

        • It's usually rightwingers that call people they don't like "sheeple".

          • Must be why Garth Turner made that the title of his little book.

      • That's an ironic statement coming from someone looking from the Canadian left, from which EVERYTHING is right-wing.

  5. will this end the same way as Toronto Star news channel? Does anyone remember? On the air for about 3 seconds with CTV headline news type of programming and just as quickly became an infommerical channel. That is still on the main tier of channels in Toronto.. The CRTC needs to be asked hard questions about this little piece of Liberal pork.

  6. The problem with letting SunTV broadcast is not that it will represent the right half (which Canwest does well enough), it's that it risks becoming FOX with it's O'Rielly tempered opinionated 'news', which is too often factually deficient . It's not journalism, or unbiased, or even attempting to be fair, just a hard-core fundamentalist spewing oldschool hate against concepts or people they fear. When was the last time George Stromp or Jian Gomeshi cut someone's mike or told them to shut up when they didn't like they're response? Or when CTV aired such incredible stories like the Obama's a 'socialist-foreigner-muslim' with weighted conviction? While the CBC & CTV (and even Macleans) might have a general slant at least they aim to be fair and balanced, because the last thing this divided country needs is a ideologically driven propaganda show thats sold as "hard news."

    • Have you ever read a Don Newman commentary/opinion piece on CBC? You should go there and read this week's rant….as a matter on fact it has to do with the Sun …Don is an old hand at slamming the Conservatives and propping up his pet project (Liberals) every chance he gets. What makes my blood boil is the free reign on my tax dollars, it needs to be stopped.

    • What pray tell is 'hard' news? Every newscaster can put his or her spin on a story by the very expression on their faces, twist of the mouth as they speak, body language – makes the story come out with an attitude of "I don't really want to say this . . . but". We do not need censorship of any kind. Wait until QMI gets its hands on the disputed Access to Information they were denied by CBC!!

    • As I recall, the CBC aired Trig Palin birther conspiracy theories.

  7. Because Davo is concerned about the little people, he doesn't want them to get all confused – it is touching, very sweet.

  8. Having listened to FOX detractors for years I added FOX News to my cable lineup.

    You know what? I like it. They blow CNN right out of the Water!

    They are not “hatefull” as some detractors say.

    As far as O’Rielly and Beck go they are not only entrrtaining, they are fair.

    If your opinion of FOX is Bassein what you read or watch on their compitition, I suggest you watch for yourself.

    You will be pleasantly surprized

    • I cant believe you actually wrote that down and did not almost die from embarrassment. do you not care that fox news has gotten its facts wrong again and again? Also that beck lies, cheats and manipulates the American ppl? Good god man YOU THINK BECK IS FAIR? i am at a lost for words. you want to bring trash tv like that to Canada and stir up trouble over the most insignificant things. You want the network who encouraged the birthers and Sarah Palin in Canada? You want ppl in Canada acting as stupid as our cousins down below? Plz pack up and move down there if you truly believe what you say. I dont want our politics to become a COMPLETE joke. We dont need ppl who disagree with others and then label them as nazisor racists or use cut up clips to make them say something complete different then what they said just to win political points. i hate act adds and Fox News is nothing more then one large Attack add

      • Moe, have you ever actually watched Fox News directly, or are you formulating your opinion here based on what others say about it?

        • He sold his heart, soul and brain to Media Matters. And doesn't care when THEY get caught with their facts wrong.

    • I recently spent a weekend in Seattle and the only way I could process Fox News was by telling myself it was a form of satirical comedy news entertainment.

      The views expressed on programs like Glenn Beck and O'Reilly Factor are so divorced from reality it was like my hotel TV had become a portal into a parallel dimension

  9. Not from the right, unless there are any rightwingers who are capable of disinterested honesty.

    • Riiiiiight. Because THAT's what Holly Stick has offered on this subject… disinterested honesty.

      It's in times like these that computers need sarcasm keys.

  10. Is there a saw against lying?

  11. No, your "Conservatives" want to put everybody in jail.

  12. Although I never have been or ever will be a fan of Stevie The Robot or the Regressive Conservatives , I welcome the new Sun channel . Having watched Fox News for a long time I look forward to being amused by right wing extremist Canadian nutbars for a change . Such programs get big ratings .It's the same as looking at an accident scene , hard to pull your eyes away . Also good for a laugh .

    • I've repeatedly stated that the off button or channel changer are good options to any disliked programming. Most of the current brand of programming, in most cases is a stretch to call it programming anyway. The importance of this is not to allow censorship of any point of view to creep in – we've already got Al-Jazeera and we have very far left leaning views all over the place right now. All the majors have consistently made cutbacks to staffing, so our local broadcasting has suffered, especially in the news area, and who would know their communities better than local broadcasters. Doesn't matter to the head honchos.

  13. Plz Canada i know we have a lot of problems with our news agencies and politics. but a fox news kinda channel is not the answer. Fox lies, cheats and manipulates the American ppl? We dont need trash TV like that in Canada to stir up trouble over the most insignificant things. I dont want our politics to become a COMPLETE joke like the USA. We dont need ppl who disagree with others and then label them as nazisor racists or use cut up clips to make them say something complete different then what they said just to win political points. i hate attack adds and Fox News is nothing more then one large Attack add. Lets be grown up about this. You want a conservative News channel fine but plz dont copy Faux News.

    • Biased news outlets are all in the watchers perception. For me, most are so far leaning to the left they don't know the truth if it hit them in the face. Whether this is management's objective or not doesn't matter. For instance, I object to paying for CBC with tax dollars. Let them go private and see what it is like to operate with a balanced budget. Let's see what QMI's winning the Access to Information will bring out about CBC. There is little programming for good entertainment any more unless one does the Idol shows; the other inananities that make regular programming. CBC 'used to have' good programming with a decent balance – not any more. And, if one doesn't like the line of programming on any channel, the off button or channel changer is a good option. I do not want this country to degenerate into censorship as was attempted when the channels that produce religious programming went through the same argument with the CRTC. One doesn't have to like the things these channels produce, but the freedom to produce is important.

  14. As the article here notes, such exceptions have already been made in the past: for CBC Newsworld and CTV Newsnet, each of which feature political programming — the latter of which features PRIMARILY political programming.

    Any exception would thus not be "special". It's been extended before, and can easily be extended again.

    • They weren't really exceptions. Both of those channels were created in the analog days, and the rules were different then. Hell, CBC News Network is 21 years old.

      Sun TV knew what the rules in 2010 were when they applied, and they're just trying to get special treatment that nobody else can get these days. Probably because the channel isn't financially viable without special treatment, and they know that. The market just isn't that big.

      • The CRTC has never been in the business of granting licenses with terms of more than 20 years.

        Whatever the rules may have been during the days of analog, the new rules should apply to any license renewal.

        Yet CBC Newsworld and CTV Newsnet seem to be dodging those rules just fine. In my opinion, this provides more than enough of a precedent to allow SUN TV to get their license.

        If the channel weren't financially viable, I doubt the folks at SUN media would be sticking their necks out trying to do it at a time when the newspaper market itself is volatile enough. Your assumption that the market won't support such a channel is a poor basis for a decision like this.

        • It's actually right there in the article: "So, starting next fall, distributors will be free to negotiate terms with CBC and CTV when it comes to packaging their existing news services with other specialty channels to sell them to subscribers."

          The special rules are going away. This isn't new policy. It's a surprise to nobody who has been paying attention, and presumably someone applying for a license (and who already has a license in the form of Sun TV in Toronto) would know that.

          If they thought the channel WAS financially viable, they'd have just gone and gotten a standard category 2 license, which would have been issued without much fuss because the CRTC has no particular reason to oppose it. Instead they asked for a license nobody can get anymore, then when that didn't work asked for a special rule that is being phased out.

          If they really think this channel can succeed on its own, why would they go through all this extra nonsense?

          • If the rule is being "phased out", as you say, then the rule is not yet gone.

            The answer, as it turns out, is a very simple one — and one that you're already fully aware of.

            The Canadian left is absolutely terrified that SUN media may start a TV news channel they won't be able to control. Their goal is going to be to lobby cable and satellite providers to refuse to offer the channel.

            The license is necessary to eliminate this as an option for the left.

          • I haven't seen a lot of people waving torches and pitchforks in front of Rogers HQ threatening cancellation if they carry this channel.

            Amusingly, the whackjobs on the left that are most vocal about attacking this application for what the channel might show are doing Quebecor a favor. They get more exposure and cover for an application that would normally have been dismissed out of hand. (The Canadian Olympic Committee has been trying to get a category 1 for years and has been systematically shot down at every turn, but nobody cares enough to generate this kind of publicity.)

            So in that sense, you're right. This is the Striesand Effect in it's full glory: by trying to censor Sun TV News, all they've done is made it more interesting.

            But that doesn't affect the business side. If people want to subscribe to the channel, Rogers and co will carry it. They carry Al Jazeera English after all, and that generated a lot more hate then this ever will.

          • You haven't seen a lot of people waving toches and pitchforks in front of Rogers HQ… yet.

            That's because theyre waving torches and pitchforks outside of the CRTC offices.

  15. Except when the truth is something that conservatives don't want to hear.

    • Your answer to criticism of demagoguery is more demagoguery?


  16. The most interesting thing about this story is how unwilling Sun TV is to launch this channel without special rules in their favor. First they wanted a category 1 license, also known as big government forcing their channel on Canadians who don't want it (that's the "free market" in action, right?).

    That failed, and now they want a special must carry category 2, which nobody else can get. Again, why are these so called conservatives afraid of competing in the market? Why are they demanding the help of big government?

    The sad truth is that this station won't do very well if it has to compete, and Quebecor knows it. The market for people willing to pay for partisan explanations of why the G20 glowsticks were not in fact a waste of taxpayer dollars isn't very big.

    • Why not try to use every tool at their disposal? If the government provides the tools, you'd be a competitive disadvantage to not try to use them.

      • Because if you want to launch a station by January, getting the license out of the way ASAP is a good idea. Under their original application, it wouldn't even have been heard by the CRTC until late 2011.

        There's no guarantee this new one is approved either. A standard license is much easier to get and would have been done by now had they just started that way.

        The "tools" in this case are being used for self-immolation and not much else.

  17. Conservatives want to be left alone, which is why a conservative news channel tried to get a license that would FORCE Canadians to subscribe to it no matter if they want it or not, by using the coercive power of big government.

    Yep, that makes sense!

    The actual difference between "conservative" and "liberal" in this country is very small. It's mostly campaign sign color. On the actual major issues they behave pretty much the same way, because that's where the votes are. They wind up differentiating themselves on things that ultimately don't matter very much (like the gun registry, as Coyne pointed out so well last week), and by painting the "other guy'" as evil.

  18. What ever happened to "free speech" in this country which we're supposed to have?
    Problem here in Canada is the liberal left is in big control and to have a traditional conservative opinion is almost to the point of being criminal.
    I for one am sick of it.
    How anyone can think having a station like Fox News Channel here in Canada is dangerous, hateful or ill-informed?
    I suggest to those that do "get some air and wise up"
    Try watching Fox News….they're not perfect. Nothing in this world is.
    But they are the most fair and balanced news network of them all.
    We need this now in Canada more than ever.

  19. You're saying there's already a "conservative" Canadian face on the glass teat? Please enlighten me.

  20. Love to see a "Fox News" type channel in Canada. evn if it must promise to focus exclusively on Canadian news.

    • Now why would we want to focus only on Canadian news. I hope you had your tongue in your cheek when you said this. There is more to this world than Canada, although I admit my bias in thinking it is the greatest place in the world. I want to know what is happening 'out there' in the wider world. If some of the predictors of the content of this channel are correct, and I hope not, there would hopefully be a bit more interesting watching than the crappy pap we have presently dished up.

  21. YES YES YES being a Canadian is getting better all the time. There’s a breath of fresh air blowing through the trees…yes…the trees that all the environmentalists and militant tree huggers fervently cried would dissappear with economic growth. It’s strange how the left is so anti business but yet depends on the cash from those of us remaining in the Private sector. Anyhow let’s get the truth rolling again. Inform our educated duds that yes there really was a Hitler and yes he did commit grave atrocities which cost over 20mil. innocent people their lives…and howsabout informing the same educated sloths that the term “Arian” derived from the barbaric tribe’s of Iran. Let’s inform the world that Canada has NO PROBLEM with anybody wishing to immigrate here just so long as they adopt Canadian/Western values. Our Constitution stipulates God as being the Supreme being not Allah or Buddah or Gaia or whichever foreign deity sombody wishs to “impose” upon us. In closing it’s also high time to KILL and ABOLISH the self destructive apathy of political correctness.
    And let’s inform our school kids that being gay (queer) is not normal. Give this a bit of time and Canada’s FOX of the North will do just fine…it’ll take a bit for people to get accustomed to the “unspun truth” rather than the liberal dogma or creative reality that has infected us since Trudeau.

    I am ETC

    Dave Selvers Canadian Capitalist
    Liberate Free Enterprise KILL Socialism.