Sun’s arise

SHRIEEEEEK!

Mayday! Mayday! The dreaded Sun TV News Network has been granted CRTC approval for a category 2 license and its Hate-Filled, Spittle-Flecked Assault on the Canadian Airwaves is imminent.    INCOMING!!!:

Quebecor Inc.’s (QBR.B-T36.720.100.27%) bid to create a new 24-hour news channel in Canada has taken another step toward the TV dial. On Friday, the federal broadcast regulator approved the license application for the Sun TV News Network.

The approval had been expected since last month, when the Montreal-based company adjusted its application to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, to request a standard license for a specialty channel.

Snark aside, I’m looking forward to Sun’s launch:  as a former ad exec I’m naturally fascinated by all media, and interested to see how the “conservative news” concept shakes out in Canada.   I am now, as I was 6 months ago, unmoved by the panic-stricken anti-Sun hysteria that escalated over the summer.  As a (very) occasional television viewer, I’m all for anything that adds diversity and choice to the line-up, and whether I personally find it an attractive option is irrelevant.    I only control one television in Canada, the one that sits unobtrusively — and silently, for the most part — in a corner of my front room.  I rule it with a cruel authoritarian’s iron hand and a hotrodded, high-powered remote, and all things that displease Your Highness are dispatched with a ruthless click!... BANG!  DEAD TO ME! But TVs beyond my property line are outside my jurisdiction, which is as it should be.

And really, in spite of all the weeping and moaning and gnashing of teeth, the feverish paranoia and furious fear-mongering, there’s little doubt that Sun will be just another bland, if blue-tinted, roadside attraction on the ever-expanding superhighway of cable TV pap and pablum.  “Fox News North”?   Not likely, says Sun’s Luc Lavoie:

“If we are ever even remotely as successful as Fox News has been so far, we will be delighted. As for the rest, I think it’s totally ridiculous,” he said.

I agree: a lot of sound and fury, signifying sweet fuck-all.  But here’s something that signifies a lot more than sweet fuck-all, from Lavoie’s description of Sun TV’s editorial flavour and target audience skew:

Lavoie did agree that the station will be “populist, blue-collar, irreverent and if one wants to go that way, right wing.”

“Blue collar”…?  Anyone remember when “blue collar” was a constituency of the left?

35 Responses to “Sun’s arise”


  1. 1 Peter Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 2:16 am

    Anyone remember when “blue collar” was a constituency of the left?

    Yup, but those days appear to be long gone. So who is your constituency today?

  2. 2 JJ Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 4:16 am

    In a nutshell? People who have no clue about the experience of the average person, but who nonetheless insist on telling them how to go about their business. What I would have called “the Establishment” 40 years ago.

    Ouch. 😦

    That’s probably a little harsh, but it’s 4am and this is when I think my darkest thoughts 😉

  3. 3 Peter Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 4:25 am

    My dear, you need some coffee. Not even I would be that dismissive of the left. But seeing as you are interested in this theme (to your everlasting credit), here is a great example of how yesterday’s progressive became today’s grumpy old elitist. The whole problem, it seems, is that we have given the little people too easy access to the Internet!!! As a card-carrying reactionary, I’m not totally without sympathy, as I have long felt Gutenburg’s printing press was a horrible mistake and the end of civilization as we knew it. 🙂

  4. 4 bigcitylib Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 5:14 am

    Anyone remember when blue collar voters actually subscribed to obscure news channels at the far end of the dial? Because I don’t.

  5. 5 fern hill Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 5:50 am

    I’m totally cool with SUN TV competing in a ‘free’ market as an ordinary cable outlet. It was the political manipulation and pressure for special treatment that got up most people’s noses. It was not at all any kind of ‘free speech’ issue.

    I’m betting that some people will be curious at the outset and maybe try it — especially as they’ll probably have to offer some kind of deal — but tire quickly of it. I mean, how much Ezra Rant can anybody sane take?

    Ultimately I see a sea of red ink — just like the National Post.

  6. 6 JJ Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 6:00 am

    BCL – With all due respect, that’s not really my point.

    Whether Sun will actually draw a significant ‘blue collar’ audience remains to be seen — the source of my dismay is that Sun would consider what used to be a left/NDP stronghold an appropriate target group for a right wing news channel.

    I know Sun newspapers have targeted similarly for most of their existence, but they never described themselves as “right-wing” media and were a little more editorially malleable.

    You don’t think this indicates shifting ideological sands in this country?

  7. 7 JJ Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 6:08 am

    fern hill

    It was not at all any kind of ‘free speech’ issue.

    Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t, for some (ie. you). But there were a lot of progressive-type people who were hoping that Sun’s failure to get the license they wanted would kill the whole idea. (This sentiment was even more evident after Kory T got canned.)

    I had at least one person say right here that the station should not be allowed on the air under *any* circumstances, and I assume those people aren’t alone.

  8. 8 psa Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 6:36 am

    i don’t think there’s much to the attempt to rebrand the corporate right wing as blue collar, beyond branding that is. cos let’s face it this is the steve harper gang we’re talking about and with the inept economist and his fortune 500 backers pretending that they are the tim horton kids it really is a bunch of rectal steam. i do find the imported hatred of the supposed elites interesting as it reflects the recent american trend to venerate stupidity, as rolled out by very expensive marketing consultants and the like. witness the attempt by brian, god’s little pony, in the morrison thread.

    as for the sun, i’m with fern, pretty much irrelevant. i doubt they’ll muster the flare for infotainment & dunce stroking that fox has mastered. and with ninnies like ezra on air they’ll be litigation magnets as the non-elite forces for mass ignorance and bigotry haven’t the guile of their southern template.

  9. 9 JJ Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 6:59 am

    Peter – 😆 Yes, after a caffeine infusion I have to agree that was an unreasonably harsh remark and a drastic oversimplification… the attitude I’m referring to isn’t universal by any means. (Although the article at your link confirms that it definitely exists.)

    The whole problem, it seems, is that we have given the little people too easy access to the Internet!!!

    People who always felt marginalized from the broader political discussion, suddenly have a voice. Terrible, isn’t it 😐

    I also love how she makes unsupported statements like this —

    “And Sarah ( “Drill, baby, drill”) Palin is also keen on creationism in schools — not to mention blurring the line between church and state, according to her new book.”

    — with no citation other than “according to her new book”. Page number? Paragraph? In fact this is a very misleading statement: Palin is not “keen” on the teaching of creationism as a science, ie. instead of evolution, which is what this statement implies.

    This kind of crap bugs me 👿

  10. 10 JJ Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 7:27 am

    psa

    i do find the imported hatred of the supposed elites interesting as it reflects the recent american trend to venerate stupidity

    It is interesting. When I first started seeing it used in reference to lefties, I thought ‘Where the hell does that come from?’ because to me “elites” meant gazillionaires with heavy political connections, influence, people above the law that governs the hoi-polloi, and so on. So I didn’t get it. Eventually I realized that it refers more to liberal paternalism, that “We’re smarter than you and we know better than you” attitude that prevails in some corners of the left.

    I’m not sure there’s a veneration of stupidity as much as scorn of what’s seen as “ivory tower intellectualism”… Nobody proudly touts their dumbness (at least I hope not 😯

  11. 11 croghan27 Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I do recall construction workers throwing things at student and ‘long hairs’ in the 60s. That was until the ‘long hairs’ went to work in construction and joined football teams.

    To see this as ‘right’ is a case of thinking that anyone that opposes anything ‘left’ is automatically with the ‘other side’ lock stock and barrel. Thw throwers were probably card carrying, dues paying union members (something not so common these day) and making a social, not a political, statement.

    While not a fan of any Sun paper (if I want to oogle at busty ladies I will go elsewhere) – I must say in their defense that the Edmonton Sun has, for my money, the best sports section of any newspaper in Canada.

  12. 12 JJ Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 9:36 am

    croghan – Of course — the Archie Bunkers 😆 Archie was a union guy but he had a hard time understanding that the organization that protected his livelihood was ideologically closer to the MeatHead than Richard M. Nixon. (And remember that movie “Joe”? Where he ended up going on a hippie-killing rampage? 😯 )

    I thought the NDP traditionally did fairly well with blue collar workers: maybe support has fallen off as unions become less ubiquitous and less powerful.

  13. 13 Peter Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Ahem. As I remember, the only real hippie-killing rampages occurred in the fevered imaginations of the hippies.

  14. 14 Cornelius T. Zen Saturday, November 27, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Good morrow, all!
    Peter: Yes, the fevered imagination caused by smoking all that pot. You know, the demon weed that makes you wreck your car, beat your wife and shoot your best friend?
    Dude! Wait! What?
    Let the Sunnies have their little TV station. Community access for the inbred knuckle-dragging mouthbreathers (or would that be the inbred mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers? I always get those two types mixed up…) Let Charles Addled rant his little (and I do mean little) heart out before the merciless lens of Canadian cable television. This Hour has 22 Minutes has been getting a little tired lately. They need something more substantial to satirize. Rick Mercer could use some fresh material, too. What better than born-again, rock-ribbed, God-fearing, librul-chewing, red-necked, foaming, quivering, Talibangelists defending family values, decrying moral depravity, and getting caught with rentboys on junkets to discover more moral depravity somewhere else?
    Bring it on! I need new material here! – CTZen

  15. 15 JJ Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 6:46 am

    Peter

    Ahem. As I remember, the only real hippie-killing rampages occurred in the fevered imaginations of the hippies.

    😯 Oh well, given the habitual intake of chemicals somewhat more exotic than caffeine, we could probably be forgiven our paranoid excesses 😛 we were the Glenn Becks of our day: in another life we would have had our own TV shows.

  16. 16 JJ Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 6:59 am

    CTZen – Of course there’s that aspect of it too, the fresh supply of new material.

    But, I would not be so sure that Sun will be narrowcasting to that extent (whoops, I’m slipping into advertising jargon — ‘narrowcasting’ is targeting a specific psychographic profile). TV is still a mass-reach medium, and far too expensive to use in the targeted way that radio is typically used. Though many are envisioning Sun TV as a TV version of talk radio, I can almost guarantee that won’t be what the product will look like. It will be, as Balb points out here, like the Conservative party itself: campaigning to the right but ultimately chasing the Center.

  17. 17 jkg Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    in another life we would have had our own TV shows.

    But wait a second, weren’t you behind Harriet’s Magic Hats and Today’s Special? Because when you think about it, those were pretty trippy.

    Not, if you would excuse, I have flex my everyman muscles and get back to the Grey Cup.

  18. 18 jkg Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    *Now, if you would excuse me

    sorry, long day.

  19. 19 jkg Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    *have to flex

    My sincerest apologies. I haven’t slept for a long time.

  20. 20 JJ Monday, November 29, 2010 at 5:55 am

    jkg – Hmmmmmm, I won’t ask what’s causing this sleep deprivation 😯 😉

  21. 21 Reality.Bites Monday, November 29, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I don’t know about the idea that they won’t be narrowcasting, JJ. There are literally hundreds of channels available to digital cable and satellite subscribers, and once you take away the couple of dozen “big” broadcast and cable channels, there’s a pretty small pie to be divvied up hundreds of ways.

    In the US, in May, Fox News had an average prime time audience of 1.8 million versus 747 000 for MSNBC and 595 000 for CNN. So in a best-case scenario where they get the same audience per capita as Fox News, we’re looking at 180,000.

    I would argue though, that the chances of Fox-like success are small. Fox News has money and, as I understand it, is a slick operation. This will be like comparing a student workshop production to a Broadway musical. And perhaps more importantly, I find that those on the right who are interested in “news” are somewhat more American-centric than the average. Why would they want to watch Ezra Levant self-promoting when they can watch Satah Palin self-promotong?

    Subscriber fees will keep them afloat, but their national audience size isn’t likely to inspire envy among local radio stations (in larger markets)

  22. 22 JJ Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 7:34 am

    RB

    I would argue though, that the chances of Fox-like success are small.

    Agreed.
    Right from the start, the problem with adapting the Fox concept to Canada is that the USA is a lot more right-wing than us. The ‘culture war’ issues that drive movement conservatism in the US are largely dead issues up here, long ago moved on from. So even though we probably do have a conservative audience that might enjoy Sun TV, it’s not as proportionately significant or as ideologically-extreme as it is in the States.

    Balbulican points that out here that there really is no conservative “movement” as such in Canada, and that makes targeting such an audience a bit problematic.

    In spite of all the hype to the contrary, that is why I don’t believe Sun TV will ultimately look anything like Fox. It might end up being your basic “news”, along with opinion & commentary from the peanut gallery in the form of Ezra Levant, Brian Lilley et al. Like having 3 or 4 Rex Murphys doing their spiel 😆
    The Harper propaganda machine envisioned by some is a paranoid fantasy.

  23. 23 Cornelius T. Zen Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Good morrow, all!
    Recently, Bill O’Reilly claimed that Fox News was the most powerful and influential news organization in the world.
    As Johnny Carson used to say: I did not know that.
    So POWERFUL! So INFLUENTIAL!…
    …that John McCain and Sarah Palin were elected to the White House in 2008. Oh, Wait. That did not happen.
    …that the Tea Party completely took over the Republican Party, and proceeded to own both Houses in Congress. Well, sorta/kinda.
    …that Iran and North Korea gave up their nuclear ambitions and invited UN inspectors to watch them pinky-swear they had NO plutonium whatsoever in the cupboard. Yeah. Right.
    …that the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan dropped their weapons and ran away, and the boys came home. In our dreams, eh?
    …that all nine Justices in SCOTUS are white male conservative Republicans. Way to go, Fox News!
    …that in New Orleans, the streets are dry, everybody has a house, a job, drives a Ford and votes GOP. *snort*
    …that in New York, Ground Zero boasts THREE towers, with built-in radar and anti-aircraft guns on the roof. Hmmm…not a bad idea…
    …that nobody EVEREVEREVER needs a bailout. *ahem*
    …that earmarks in Congress are merely a bad dream. Puh-leeze!
    …that Canada will be JUST LIKE THE USA, and have its very own POWERFUL! INFLUENTIAL! “conservative” news service.
    Next up on Sun News: Why getting Christmas Day off is a plot to take money out of the pockets of poor, hard-working industrialists like Weyerhauser, Inco and Wal-Mart.
    Humbug! – CTZen

  24. 24 Reality.Bites Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I think a fair argument can be made that they’re the most powerful “news” organization in the United States, particularly as they, more than other organizations, are indeed unabashedly in the business of influencing, rather than reporting or analyzing.

    I’d dispute the part about “in the world” though.

    Interesting trivia I just discovered: Fox News is not carried on Videotron, and Shaw carries it on a higher “pick and pay” tier, unlike CNN, MSNBC and BBC World News, which are included in big packages.

    I wonder how many people in Canada actually get Fox News.

  25. 25 Bleatmop Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    RB – I use Shaw direct and I get Fox News because it is bundled with MSNBC, BBC World News, CBC Bold, Bloomburg and most importantly G4 Tech TV (Gotta love me some Xplay with Morgan Webb and Adam Sessler, ya I’m a video game geek).

    Can’t get a direct link to the bundles, but if you follow this link, then click on the specialty bundle, you can see for yourself.

    On the positive side, getting that bundle introduced me to the awesomeness that is Rachel Maddow. She’s the best interviewer on TV, imo.

  26. 26 Peter Tuesday, November 30, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    RB:

    We have Videotron and we get Fox. I don’t watch a lot of TV, so I just went downstairs to confirm. By chance, I stumbled on a news item from Detroit about a huge project to repair and refurbish the Windsor-Detroit bridge that would bring 10,000 jobs to Michigan and would be funded entirely by Canadian government loans to be repaid out of tolls. Lots of nice shots of Windsor and Canadian flags. Everybody was on board, especially the unions, except apparently for one key state legislator who was blocking it for reasons I couldn’t figure out, but he seemed to be in hiding. The coverage was pretty mainstream except for some drive-by swipes at the legislator by the very black newscaster about coming out of hiding to explain himself.

    Damn racist American exceptionalists!!

  27. 27 JJ Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 6:38 am

    CTZen – 😆

    I think there’s definitely a case to be made for Fox’s influence among a certain segment of US conservatives, though. Many do not trust or watch any other news source, and such limited input stunts the critical thinking process that would normally allow them to discern the shit from the shinola. This ultimately gives Fox a lot of latitude in terms of how they spin the news, and no doubt it’s had a toxic effect on wider political discourse.

    But so what? This is the weapon the right has chosen, it’s served them well, and it’s not about to end anytime soon. Progressives need to upgrade their own arsenal, instead of continually showing up at a gun fight with a plastic spoon.

  28. 28 JJ Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 7:05 am

    RB

    I think a fair argument can be made that they’re the most powerful “news” organization in the United States, particularly as they, more than other organizations, are indeed unabashedly in the business of influencing, rather than reporting or analyzing.

    IMO Fox is head & shoulders above their peers in terms of influence. Even if their influence is mostly among conservatives, the states is not like Canada: proportionately a lot more Americans self-identify as conservative. And the type of conservative they are tends to be more extreme than what we have up here. Which makes Fox’s influence all the more significant. And it’s fair to say that Fox *is* in the Influence Business more than they’re in the “News” Business.

    It’s hard to say how many cable subscribers get Fox, probably a lot. I can get it if I subscribe to a package called “classic cable”, which I’m not about to do because I never watch anything but Newsworld, Newsnet & the weather channel.

  29. 29 JJ Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 7:13 am

    Bleatmop – Ahhhh yeah, the Bloomberg, I wouldn’t mind getting Bloomberg, they have commodity market news 8) MSNBC I just watch on my computer, Olby, Rachel and Tweety.

  30. 30 jkg Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 7:23 am

    Hmmmmmm, I won’t ask what’s causing this sleep deprivation

    Heh, well, let’s just say I have only two weeks to turn around a major submission. With the intense writing, I have adopted the “sleep when you are tired.” I wouldn’t suggest it personally. You eventually start to develop a polyphasic sleep cycle, which is really freaky.

    The thing about Fox News is that that their local affiliates are not really all that slanted. There is no denying their effect. If you recall, the Groseclose and Milyo study, Fox News really promoted the heck out of it because it supposedly suggest that most media was biased liberally. I don’t how comparing the think tank citations used by Congressman versus the think tank citations used by media organizations somehow bolsters that sweeping assertion, but anyway, that study never made into the Journal of Communication. However, it made into the Quarterly Journal Of Economics, supposedly because applying economic models and theory to media and communication has become the rage these days.

    There now have been a few studies looking at the “Fox News Effect” on voting patterns in certain constituencies, and those studies are finding themselves in that Journal. I think one study cited a 6 percent change, which is still significant.

    The tricky thing with measuring the effect of something like Fox News is that variables for measure and quantification of aspects like media bias and their effects are wrought with assumptions and artifacts in the model which can make it appear that the trend is representative on the population level.

    I am not overall worried about FNN because like Fox News down south, their reach will be limited at the local level. As much as the pundits like to sneer at the general suspicion of American influence, I think there will always be a steadfast underbelly of scrutiny by the Canadian public due to basic pride. Maybe some neoconservatives have no problem with simply importing an unaltered Fox model, but I would think that Canadian viewers would prefer a product that is actually reflective of Canada.

  31. 31 JJ Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Peter

    Damn racist American exceptionalists!!

    Kidding aside, I wonder how much longer the US will be able to claim exceptional status (and I would agree, in the 20th century it was exceptional). If the economic collapse is as bad as I fear (though admittedly I am no economist and sometimes prone to paranoid fantasies), I wonder if we’re witnessing not only the end of exceptionalism but the end of an empire.

    Egads, what a downer! 😯 Carry on!

  32. 32 Peter Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 8:40 am

    JJ:

    Even my good and very conservative American friend assures me that American exceptionalism is best understood as a quasi-spiritual underpinning of national cohesion and not as a basis for public policy or a predictor of the future. But they really all do believe in it in some way, the left as much as the right. The thing that unites them all is their certainty that the Revolution was the high-water mark of human history. The left may say it was all betrayed by assorted nefarious forces, but that’s where they want to get back to and where they get all their rhetoric from.

    As to their future fortunes, all glory is fleeting, but it is astounding how the left (especially the American left) is forever predicting the decline and demise of the States, and yet they always confound the experts with amazing resilience. In the fifties it was widely believed by the bien pensant crowd that the Soviets would overtake them (!!!), in the seventies Japan Inc would buy them out asset by asset, in the eighties the EU would drown them in planning and social justice and today we are all convinced unstable, totalitarian, hyper-inflated and corrupt China will soon knock them off their pedestal. Could be, but I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on that.

  33. 33 JJ Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 8:40 am

    jkg

    You eventually start to develop a polyphasic sleep cycle

    Also known as “catnapping”. I’ve noticed a lot of animals sleep this way, probably survival instinct — anyone who sleeps more than one straight hour in the wild is going to end up being someone else’s lunch.

    Anyway.

    I would think that Canadian viewers would prefer a product that is actually reflective of Canada.

    Well, yes & no. But I think the ones that want the genuine article with Beck, O’Reilly etc, will simply continue subscribing to it. Sun TV will have a few pot-stirrers of its own (ie. Levant) but nothing on the level of Glenn Beck 😯 The states has always done everything bigger, louder, higher etc. than us, and this will be no different. The possibility of Sun TV being such an influential propaganda machine that it causes Canadian politics to veer sharply to the right is just about nil. They will have their hands full staying above water.

  34. 34 JJ Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Peter

    But they really all do believe in it in some way, the left as much as the right.

    For sure. I’ve heard Keith Olbermann tout American exceptionalism.

    The thing that unites them all is their certainty that the Revolution was the high-water mark of human history.

    Ahh, I see. I thought it was about how they’re the “shining city on the hill” etc., that everyone wants to emigrate to because there’s more opportunity than anywhere else. Interesting.

    it is astounding how the left (especially the American left) is forever predicting the decline and demise of the States, and yet they always confound the experts with amazing resilience.

    That’s what I’m hoping for, continued resilience (believe it or not, some of us take no pleasure in these dark predictions).
    What you say makes sense — when US car companies went into decline and Japanese cars were in their ascendancy, I can remember people predicting doom & gloom that the automotive industry was dead.

    Thankyou, I feel better now 🙂

  35. 35 jkg Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    . But I think the ones that want the genuine article with Beck, O’Reilly etc, will simply continue subscribing to it.

    That is true. There is already a constituency who are devoted to the Fox News brand in Canada, I would suspect, and they would have already been subscribed to it. It is almost an unintended intra-specific competition between Fox and Sun Tv.


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