Sun Sets on Fox News North Conspiracy Theory?

And so yet another juicy and compelling conspiracy theory lies in smoking ruins.

Via Impolitical, CRTC Chair Konrad von Finckenstein responds to an August Globe & Mail column which speculated that the wheels of Sun TV’s CRTC application are being improperly greased by the PMO.   (“Improperly greased”, heh. Woo!)  The chairman more or less shits on the chest of that particular theory, writing:

I read with consternation Lawrence Martin’s column Is Stephen Harper Set To Move Against The CRTC? (Aug. 19) calling into question the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s independence as a regulatory body. The column stems from Quebecor Media’s application to launch a TV news service called Sun TV News.

I would like to categorically state that no one at any level of government has approached me about the Sun TV application, the appointment of the CRTC’s vice-chair of broadcasting, or my own mandate.

Quebecor’s application is being treated according to the CRTC’s well-established processes. The application was published on Sept. 1 for comment, and a public hearing will be held in Gatineau, Que., starting on Nov. 19. The CRTC will then make a decision on the basis of the evidence on the public record.

Konrad von Finckenstein, chair, CRTC, Gatineau, Que.

One can well imagine a bound and gagged von Finckenstein being forced — at long-gun point — to type this letter as it was dictated to him by Harper’s grinning, brainless minions.

On a more serious note, yesterday as I tried to familiarize myself with this issue I couldn’t help noticing that I’m not the only one confused about licensing, and with good reason.  Much of the reporting on this issue ranges from half-assed to abysmal, with terms like “must-carry” and “must-offer” used interchangeably, though they are very different things.  Add to that the hyperventilating rhetoric, a liberal dollop of well-deserved suspicion of Stephen Harper… and stir!  Boom!  Confusion A La Mode, half-baked.

Their bid for a Category One license having been rejected, but also having accomplished the task of generating mucho buzzo… …Sun is now being considered for a “Category 2 Specialty” license, which means the channel has to be offered in at least one cable package.

At my cable company, this type of channel is offered in packages of certain numbers of channels — 2, 7, 14 or the Full Monty —  and customers pick their own lineup.   A Category 2 Specialty license means Sun TV must be one of the channels on offer along with BBC Canada, Animal Planet and others, but nobody’s forcing customers to select it (as far as I know): it’s just one more choice.

And really, I have a hard time working up a lot of righteous anger at the prospect of being given more choice.  If anyone can prove that Harper is somehow involved in improperly greasing the wheels of the licensing process for Sun TV — and based on meetings like this, who could be blamed for wondering? — then that would be an issue for me.  Otherwise it’s just another choice, and I am, after all, pro-choice.

20 Responses to “Sun Sets on Fox News North Conspiracy Theory?”


  1. 1 Luna Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 8:17 am

    The conspiracy that I heard was not that anyone directly approached him to push him to approve FNN, but that the PMO’s office keeps offering him primo jobs elsewhere and won’t renew his contract when it’s up. My civil servant husband got that one in his work email. Someone’s gonna be in trouble. 🙂

  2. 2 Luna Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Oh, and my thoughts are that I still don’t want it offered. It will be a negative influence on Canadian society, and I’d like to keep it the hell out of Canada. Fact is, they preach hate, and that’s not legal here. They’ll push and push the limits on that, and tie up the courts with law suits, and pretty soon they’ll have enough publicity that people will tune in just to hear what they have to say next. It will also make it more socially acceptable to spew that kind of hatred publicly. At this point, the psychos hide behind the relative anonymity of the blogs and with their bigot friends. Having this kind of hate be legitimized is NOT a good thing, and I will fight to keep it out of Canada.

  3. 3 JJ Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Luna – Well, there’s no law against the PMO offering the CRTC chairman another job. It’s a little sleazy in this context, but we all know by now that’s just how Harper rolls, so it shouldn’t come as any big surprise.

    In fact, I would have been more surprised if Harper had *not* offered VF another peachy job.

    Oh, and my thoughts are that I still don’t want it offered

    Not at all? You mean, you favour keeping it from ever going on the air under any circumstances or any kind of license?

    And here I thought the progressive beef with this station was the type of license it wanted, and the possibility that there might be improper interference from the PMO 😉 Boy, do I feel dumb 😉

    Having this kind of hate be legitimized is NOT a good thing

    I haven’t seen the channel yet so I can’t say what kind of hate they’re peddling, or if Hate is even on the menu. But since Canada has hate speech laws with a pretty high bar, I imagine it would be hard for any TV station to traffic in that kind of thing.

  4. 4 FFIB Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Here here JJ, or there there.

    Think about all the fun we could have posting if FNN was half as virulent to our Canadian sensitivities as FN is to the Americans.

  5. 5 deBeauxOs Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 11:24 am

    And think of all the fun that progressive ‘murricans would have blogging about Faux News North.

    Oh wait …

  6. 6 JJ Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    FFIB – I know!!! When I think of how often I’ve “critiqued” some National Post article or other, I can only imagine the material Sun will provide.

  7. 7 JJ Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    deBeauxOs – Actually I could see it being made fun of as the polite, Canadian, “Excuse Me” version of Fox News. (Or maybe not… they generally don’t know we exist up here… they’ve got enough on their plates.)

  8. 8 stageleft Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Good luck with that “If anyone can prove that Harper is somehow involved in improperly greasing the wheels of the licensing process for Sun TV…” idea.

    I’ve begged for something more substantial that a “once CPoC official” having salad with Murdoch — and I got nothing for it.

  9. 9 Bleatmop Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    One thing I’m not clear on: This station keeps getting called Fox News North. Does it or will it have any relationship with Fox? Or is that just a scare tactic?

  10. 10 JJ Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    stageleft

    I’ve begged for something more substantial that a “once CPoC official” having salad with Murdoch — and I got nothing for it.

    I expect it to be proven that Harper is ass-deep in this Sun TV thing around the same time as it’s proven that the long gun registry saves lives.

  11. 11 JJ Wednesday, September 8, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Bleatmop

    This station keeps getting called Fox News North. Does it or will it have any relationship with Fox? Or is that just a scare tactic?

    A scare tactic? 😯 Bite your tongue! Progressives don’t use scare tactics, only wingnuts do that 😉

    My understanding is that Sun TV is all-Canadian, there’s no actual relationship with the American Fox News at all (other than maybe some consulting). The epithet is derived from Teneycke’s remark a few years ago (before he got into broadcasting) about how Canada needs a “Fox News”-type conservative news station.

  12. 12 Peter Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 1:52 am

    JJ, don’t you think this whole controversy feels almost archaic in a world of 500 channels, the Internet, blogs, satellite radio, feeds to e-mail, etc? Listening to the frets and fulminations of some progressives, I feel like I’m back in the 19th century listening to Conservative fogeys warn of the hazards of exposing our children to the dangerous but alluring rhetoric of the Rapacious Yankee Trader.

    Have you ever wondered why Canadian schoolchildren have always been taught so little American history? Now you know.

  13. 13 Cornelius T. Zen Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Good morrow, all!
    And when Fox News North (We report. You have to watch. Seriously! It’s the Canadian thing to do! Don’t you love your country? We ARE the True North, Strong and … well, relatively inexpensive…and no, Stephen Harper doesn’t tell us what to tell you…but he’s such a good guy, you just gotta give him credit…please?) ramps up and hits the cable, there will be wailing, and gnashing of teeth (and if you don’t have teeth, they will be provided…it IS, after all, Canada!)
    Anyway, where was I…oh, yeah!
    A long time ago, some provincial politicians were visiting my hig school. The drama club put up a banner for its stage offering: Much Ado About Nothing
    They were told there was no such thing as free speech in high school, and were made to take the banner down. So the play selected became: As You Like It.
    Save your money. Tell the cable company to put it where the sun don’t shine. That IS your right, and if you don’t exercise it, you’ve only yourself to blame.
    As for spewing hate…the Dark Side needs attention to thrive. Thou shalt mock them with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength, and thou shalt love thy humour as thyself. Don’t hate them because they are evil. Mock them because they are stupid.
    As You Like It – CTZen

  14. 14 JJ Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 7:41 am

    Peter – Like most such “nontroversies” this one seems to be based more on fantasy than fact: such as the idea that Sun TV will be a carbon copy of Fox News, complete with a bawling Canadian Glenn Beck, 24/7 CPC talking points, All Harper, All The Time.

    This is absurd on its face: Canada has sort of a “media fairness doctrine” in the Broadcast Act and there’s only so much one-way propagandizing a station can do without running afoul of it, unlike in the US where the EIB network or Fox News can rant 24/7 against liberals.

    But you’re right: even apart from that inconvenient little factoid, just considering 2010 media realities it’s a little silly to worry about one station soiling our pure Canadian airwaves. Unless there’s been improper interference from the PMO, which there’s no proof of (Harper’s allowed to have lunch with whoever he wants), I really don’t get the drama.

  15. 15 JJ Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 8:10 am

    CTZen

    Save your money. Tell the cable company to put it where the sun don’t shine.

    Yeah… if this thing is really so offensive, I wonder why more people aren’t advocating a mass cable-cutting. (Not that it’s Shaw’s or Rogers’ fault if Sun gets a license that dictates it be offered as part of their lineup, but hitting them in the pocketbook might convince them to lobby the CRTC for, I don’t know, something.)

    For some reason, something about having cake and eating it comes vaguely to mind…

  16. 16 Reality.Bites Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    A category two license does not require any company to offer it.

    A cable company must agree to offer it before the license will be issued. In the past, a lot of Cat 2 licenses were issued to channels that never made it to air because no one was interested in carrying them. So before Fox News North will be given a license, Rogers or Shaw or Bell or Cogeco needs to say, “Sure, we’ll carry it.”

    It’s not really “one more choice” though, because channels aren’t offered individually. For example, at Bell, if you want to get Men’s TV (aimed at straight men) you have to also get Out TV, Fashion Television, Discovery Health, Travel and Sundance. And CNN comes with Animal Planet while Fox News comes with National Geographic.

    To get Sun News means taking other channels one probably won’t be interested in and no one would reasonably expect a Sun News viewer to be interested in. Conversely, to avoid paying for Sun News would mean not receiving other channels one might want to get.

  17. 17 JJ Thursday, September 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    RB

    So before Fox News North will be given a license, Rogers or Shaw or Bell or Cogeco needs to say, “Sure, we’ll carry it.”

    That would be another reason for all the pre-launch publicity they’re drumming up from outraged progressives, eh? 😉 That Kory is one smart wingnut.

    As for the packaging, my cable company says customers can choose any 7 specialty stations, which sounds good, but there’s probably some small print (ie. if you choose station X you’re also choosing station Y and Z).

    Still, it all seems okay to me, within the context that cable companies should force customers to buy certain packages at all. I don’t see why it’s a big deal to have a station I wouldn’t watch in my cable package — right now, on the lowest tier cable, there’s about 20 stations I don’t watch and they don’t bother me.

    If people are really that bugged about this channel being in their cable package and they can’t summon up the willpower to ignore it, I’d suggest their television watching has reached critical mass and it may be time to cut the cable for their own health and safety 😉

  18. 18 Cornelius T. Zen Friday, September 10, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Good morrow, JJ!
    We have not have cable TV since 1996. Somehow, getting British murder mysteries, good quality American series, and Discovery and History channel specials on DVD from the library is far more satisfying. (what isn’t there? oh…yeah…commercials…)
    If I want to see Glenn Beck, Olbermann or Stewart will be more than glad to run clips on their shows.
    God bless the intrawebs. eh? – CTZen

  19. 19 JJ Friday, September 10, 2010 at 10:26 am

    CTZen – I’m mulling over the idea of cutting the cable myself (except for the internets, of course). I haven’t turned the TV on for almost a year, and even then it was just to find out if it would be snowing or not, and I already have weathernetwork dot com bookmarked. Unless I’m forced to have the TV cable in order to get the internets, there doesn’t seem to be much point in keeping it.

  20. 20 Cornelius T. Zen Friday, September 10, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Good morrow, JJ!
    I think Groucho Marx said it best:
    Television is very educational. Everytime I walk into a room with the television on, I walk into another room and read a book.
    Now THERE’s a Marxist! – CTZen


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