Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Here Comes the Sun

So FOX News North and Kory Vision has a name - Sun News.

The new network is still in its infancy, so it may be premature for us to pass judgment on it. But I suspect they'll be prematurely passing judgment on a lot of individuals in the years to come, so let's jump in and judge away!

There's a lot of hysteria out there - Don Newman called it "the absolute last thing this country needs", and a lot of Liberals are sounding alarm bells. Personally, I have a hard time getting too worked up over this. This isn't some Machiavellian plan by Kory Teneycke and Stephen Harper to take control of the media. Pierre Karl Péladeau is investing 100 million in this venture - the goal is to make money, pure and simple.

And even though Sun News's format will be modelled after FOX News, I have a hard time believing the content will skew as hard right. Their first two hires - David Akin and Brian Lilly Lilley - are both respected journalists, without a hint of bias. They're rumoured to have poached Krista Erickson, one of the favourite targets of Conservatives bloggers as proof of a Liberal bias at the CBC. Hell, Teneycke made a pitch to land Rick Mercer.

I don't for a second doubt that a few loud mouth right wingers will wind up with evening talk shows, but these guys are trying to make money, and I don't think there's money to be made pandering exclusively to the conservative base.

And even if they do, where's the harm in that? Could it actually be any worse than giving Mike Duffy a nightly show? It's a free country, and it will give give me something to blog about, the same way Fox News provides The Daily Show with hours of content.

So, biases aside, what should we expect? Here's how the network describes itself:

All news specialty services play a vital role in keeping Canadians well informed on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour basis and ensuring that news coverage is both broad and deep. However, being well informed means more than being exposed to dry news.

Led by trusted journalists like David Akin and Brian Lilley, Sun News will offer Canadians “Hard News” by day: live reporting and real-time conversations with journalists covering breaking news. Headlines will be analysed, commented upon and discussed at length in an intelligent exchange to open further debate. Daytime news segments will cover a broad range of political, economic and lifestyle stories that matter to Canadians both rural and urban.

In the evenings, “Straight Talk” programs will feature hosts and guests that deliver strong opinions and analysis of stories that are important to Canadians that day. “Straight Talk” opinion journalism at night will be clear, intelligent and engaging – featuring a broader array of television personalities and signature hosts who will challenge viewers to think – and decide – for themselves.

Without a doubt, this is the FOX News format - give the viewers excitement!, opinions!, personality!, and entertainment! with their news. I know a lot of people expect the format to flop here, but I think it could work. FOX News has done so well for a reason, and I tend to think it's more because of format than content. If I'm flipping channels during the baseball game, I'd be more likely to flip over to an engaging political talk show (even an infuriating one) than the same news headlines I can read online.

So I guess my only wish is that they don't dumb it down too much. And that they're fair - I have no problem with a right wing perspective, but FOX News is so hypocritical that's hardly watchable. There's a way to make smart reporting and smart opinions interesting - if SunNews succeeds in doing that, then all the power to them, regardless of how far from the right they look at the news.


  • Actually, Lilley has always seemed to me a standard issue Conservative-slant opinionizer. Not at all like Akin.

    As for "dumbing down", if they DON'T do that how are they different from CTV? I actually think the ideological space these guys have to work with is limited. The only way to distinguish themselves is to embrace teh crazy. But to do that risks alienating everyone else. They've got the same problem as the CPoC.

    By Blogger bigcitylib, at 8:23 PM  

  • Harper knows he's going to be out of a job in the next election--either voted out, or fired. He's putting in place a tool to be used by the rightwing of Canada to try and destroy any party that opposes the CPC, and further erode the political debate here.

    And let's not ignore the fact that the fix is in. Why would they go ahead and announce a news station that doesn't even have a license yet? If Quebecor didn't know that they would certainly get tier 1 licensing, they wouldn't be spending money on this venture.

    That said, are we expected to believe a 24 hour news station can run on a paltry $20 million per year? If Kory-boy didn't know he was going to be getting tier one licensing, and all those forced package cable subscriber dollars, he wouldn't be involved with this.

    This has the PMO's hand all over it. Even if the CRTC denies them tier 1 licensing, the PMO will rubber stamp the license.

    During the presser Man-Child Kory said:

    "We're taking on smug, condescending, often irrelevant journalism..."

    Well, Kory is perfect for this position, since no one in Canada is more smug, condescending, or irrelevant than him.

    By Anonymous Paul Raposo, at 8:37 PM  

  • Hard news just like Fox. So which female newscaster is going to be kissing her shoe on air?


    Give them a tear 2 license. No handouts.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:45 PM  

  • I think it will be interesting to see, I don't how much I'd watch it but atleast it will be another Canadian network.

    By Blogger RedToryLiberal, at 11:37 PM  

  • There are enough current examples of "media" organizations who think of themselves as right-wing (or perhaps "balanced") solely because the urban landscapes in which they are based are ultra-left-wing.

    It's about time there were a source for news which didn't live that conceit.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:01 AM  

  • If nothing else, it will be an interesting experiment...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:19 AM  

  • A fair and balanced post.

    No sarcasm, I swear.

    By Blogger The Fwanksta, at 12:17 PM  

  • Reading the Calgary Grit blog, I heard about a woman representing the grassroots in Rob Anders' riding trying to take the Conservative nomination away from Anders.Reading elsewhere I found out she has nothing to do with the Conservatives and has worked with Joe Clark and the Liberals against the Conservatives. We need more information and debate.
    I hope Sun News repeatedly shows the clip of Al Gore calling for war against Iraq because of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, long before Dubya ever set foot in the White House. And has anyone notice how Cindy Sheehan completely disappeared from the media when she took on Obama over Afghanistan? Could be some interesting times ahead.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 12:32 PM  

  • Rob, maybe you should get back to work?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:00 PM  

  • It bothers me a bit that Quebecor is asking for category 1 license (i.e. they expect every cable subscriber to pay for it whether they want it or not) but maybe they can just get category 1 for a couple of years and then get weaned off. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Newsworld and the CTV news channel are both permanently category 1 despite selling commercials and being on air for years. If the thing turns out to be as widely popular as Quebecor claims, I'm sure they won't mind being demoted to category 2 in a few years

    By Blogger Brad, at 1:34 PM  

  • Fox news is the product of a particular set of views, not the cause of that set of views. If you don't like Sun News (and if it is anything like the Toronto Sun, I won't like it), don't watch it.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 5:09 PM  

  • Huh. Who watches TV for news anymore? Not me!

    By Blogger Party of One, at 6:50 PM  

  • Personally I like having more choice.

    If our current choices are of such good quality, then a poor quality option will do nothing more than reinforce that.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:31 AM  

  • I think the shitty quality of the Sun's newspapers is a good indication of what kind of "news" this will be.

    By Anonymous DR, at 10:34 AM  

  • It bothers me a bit that Quebecor is asking for category 1 license (i.e. they expect every cable subscriber to pay for it whether they want it or not)

    Actually, that's not what they're asking for. The category they want means that cable companies have to offer the channel on *one* of their possible tiers/packages, not all of them (which is what Newsworld and Newsnet currently have).

    Of course, I favour getting rid of all gov't mandates/restrictions on what cable companies must/can carry, but as long as we're stuck with them, they should treat everyone equally.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 12:33 PM  

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