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article imageOp-Ed: Sun News, free markets, and Fox News North

By Ken Hanly     Apr 27, 2013 in Politics
Ottawa - Sun News is busy promoting its case for mandatory carriage before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. Sun News says that its survival is at stake.
The conservative-leaning Sun News, critics nick-name Fox News North because of some of its conservative commentators, is projected to lose $19.5 million next year. Even so, the two-year-old network is currently available to 5.1 million households (40 per cent of all Canadian homes). Yet it is drawing an average of only 7,900 viewers at any given time.
The Sun News is a strong supporter of the free market, and usually opposed to government interference in markets, and a constant critic of the government-supported CBC,. However when it comes to profits and corporate survival, principles may make a ship that is taking on water too heavy, and they are thrown overboard. The Sun News, which spreads the sunlight of free markets amid the darkness of big government is asking for the government regulator CRTC to force private business in the form of television providers to carry the Sun News channel as part of their basic offerings. Cable subscribers are forced to pay for that channel whether they want it or not. Whatever happened to free choice?
Sun News' approach mirrors that of the Sun chain of Quebecor-owned tabloid newspapers. The Sun News TV channel is owned and operated by Quebecor Media. The channel employs both conservative commentators and often conservative operating staff.
The head of Sun News is Kory Teneycke, who is also Vice President of development for Quebecor. Teneycke was formerly director of communications and chief spokesperson for our Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. When Teneycke left briefly after a dispute--see the appended video-- the News was headed by long-time Quebecor executive, Luc Lavoie, also a former Prime Ministerial spokesperson under the earlier Conservative Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney. A columnist in the Globe and Mail suggests that a reader might ask: "Is this not the same Sun News Network whose vice-president, Kory Teneycke, complained in a 2010 commentary in the Sun chain’s newspapers that mandatory carriage was ‘tantamount to a tax on everyone’ with cable or satellite service?.Is it not a bit surreal that we should be forced to pay for a television station that devotes much of its airtime to complaining that we are forced to pay for another television channel, the CBC, which we watch in far greater numbers?”
The Sun News representatives explained that without government assistance granting them mandatory carriage, that horrible tax on everyone, which the News and Mr. Teneycke have criticized, the News will not likely survive. Apparently, the mandatory carriage is no longer something to be deplored but a fact of life. When CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais suggested that the Sun News had problems developing an audience because people just did not want to subscribe, Teneycke responded: "It is inevitable you'll pay for things you don't watch and don't like. That's true for everyone." So it turns out that this horrible mandatory tax on everyone is after all just a fact of life, and perhaps also a life-saver for Sun News.
Blais also asked why Sun News was not offered on basic cable by Videotron the Quebec cable provider owned by Quebecor that also owns Sun News. Apparently there was no response from Sun News.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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