The Hypocrisy of SUN News Network

The SUN News Network is applying to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for ‘mandatory carriage’ and a “guaranteed placement on the lower end of the dial” on Canadian television.  In their article for The Globe and Mail, “As losses mount, Sun turns to CRTC”, Steve Ladurantaye and Simon Houpt report that, without a favourable decision from the CRTC, SUN News network will continue to see $17-million a year losses.

Before diving into how hypocritical this application by Quebecor, Sun News Network’s parent company, to the CRTC is, I should point a few things out.  Granting a TV channel ‘mandatory carriage’ means that it must be included in the most basic cable packages offered by any provider.  As Ladurantaye and Houpt report:

“This would generate about $18-million a year for the network, because it would earn 18 cents a month in wholesale revenue from every Canadian household that subscribes to a basic cable, satellite, or IPTV service. With traditional pricing mark-ups, that would likely translate to $4 a year per consumer.”

In other words, if you live in Canada and you want TV, you will be forced to pay for SUN News Network. 

So, besides all the money they would automatically acquire if given ‘mandatory carriage’, why do they need it.  Again, I’ll let the authors of the article tell you:

“…because advertising revenue has been difficult to obtain and it is having trouble convincing Canadians to subscribe to the specialty packages that include its signal.”  In other words, they have trouble wooing advertisers because nobody watches their channel.

As for a lower place on the dial, I’m assuming Sun News Network wants to appear somewhere channel 30 or under.  Currently they’re sitting somewhere between channel 79 and 705 on the majority of providers.   SUN News Network argues they need this, on top of ‘mandatory carriage’, because, with their high placements, Canadians don’t know the channel exists.  I guess, despite owning numerous newspapers and media companies, Quebecor is having a difficult time getting the word it out that it has a 24-hour news channel.

Sad cakes.

The hypocrisy of Quebecor’s request is blood curdling. As well as two-pronged:

First, the general ideological hypocrisy:  SUN News Network, and SUN Media in general, skew to the right (at times far-right) politically.  Not particularly concerned about unbiased journalism, SUN network and newspapers argue passionately in favour for free-market capitalism and rally against the nemesis of that form of capitalism, government subsidy and intervention in markets. 

What they have asked for is, however, a GOVERNMENT SUBSIDY in every sense of the word:  not only would the CRTC, a government entity, be forcing Canadians who want even the most basic television to purchase their channel, they would gain an UNFAIR advantage over other Canadian news providers who do not have similar perks.

Secondly, the specific hypocrisy in respect to their views of television networks who receive government subsidy i.e. the CBC:  SUN News Media, for the last few years, has been waging a war against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and its taxpayer-subsidized budget.   They’ve criticized them for everything from their original programming to the number of private cars it hires for employees.

To go from arguing that Canadian media should not be government subsidized to arguing they NEED their own government subsidization to survive is a despicable turn of face.  Especially when you consider that the CBC’s 24-hour news channel doesn’t get such preferential treatment.

Of course, this isn’t just about money.  As Kory Teneycke, vice-president of Sun News, explained, “We’re putting out more real Canadian programming than virtually any other channel,” and that, “our viewers (are) more middle-to-lower income. They’re most likely to be on basic cable services.”

So SUN news network is bringing Canadian content to the ‘little guy’, isn’t that sweet.  Maybe ‘middle-to-lower income’ viewers are not interested in watching poorly-produced, right-wing propaganda.  So why force them, and the rest of Canada, to pay for it.

Even though I would still find the hypocrisy disgusting, perhaps I would be more sympathetic if Quebecor were doing badly financially.  Despite losses in advertisement revenue from its newspapers (I suspect most newspapers are feeling this crunch), Quebecor found itself with “an $18-million profit in the last quarter.”  More sad cakes.

While I find the hypocrisy of Sun News Media stomach-churning, I do not find it surprising.  Whether it’s demanding lower corporate and investment taxes or legislation denying a woman’s right to an abortion, the Right only want governments to act when it is in their interest.  As long as their winning, everyone else should stop whining.


To view the article by Steve Ladurantaye and Simon Houpt where I got all the above quotes, here’s the link:

Thanks to Margie Marlin (@DemocratizeCa) for posting the above article on Facebook for me to find.

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