05.29.2013 10:53 AM

Sun News: fair’s fair

As the House Communist© at Sun News, I draw to your attention this and this.

Fair’s fair. If CBC gets yet more “mandatory carriage,” so should the SNN.

I support both. The CRTC should, too.

59 Comments

  1. Tdotdaver says:

    How do you square the about-face from Sun about this though? I thought that SNN was going to prove that ‘we don’t need any subsidies and all subsidies for media are bad’?

    • Warren says:

      What Kory’s said. They’ve discovered you can’t compete when the other guy has guaranteed revenue and you don’t.

      End mandatory carriage for everyone, or offer it to all.

      • Tdotdaver says:

        Fair enough.

      • Tim says:

        That’s a good libertarian argument and I support it. I believe Sun is going to fold up without mandatory carriage. So will many other channels. Sink or swim.

        And what is it exactly we are buying with our CBC tax dollars anyway? Ads on CBC 2 to pay for us to listen to music readily available elsewhere? Hockey night in Canada? MacLean? Cherry?
        Dragon’s Den? Republic of Doyle?

        Time for a good think on all of this I’d say.

      • Stacey Kaser says:

        I don’t think the situation is as simple as you make it out to be: CBC vs. privates.

        Broadcasters in Canada are all publically supported in the sense that the CRTC will only issue a certain number of licenses in any particular market. This guarantees private broadcasters a finite amount of competition. For many years there was an adage that “a broadcast license is a license to print money.”

        Second, while it is true that the CBC are given public funding, they are also given a much broader mandate. The CBC have to provide services to every part of Canada, from Coast to Coast to Coast, in both languages. This is an invaluable service to many rural communities and quite frankly, a cost of having such a large and diverse country. And since the government does not wholly fund CBC television, they are essentially forced into competition with the private broadcasters in order to fulfill their mandate.

        Private broadcasters are allowed to “simulcast” which means they can substitute their own advertising for programming that they have imported from the US. Creating programming is infinitely more expensive than buying it, so this gives private broadcasters an incredible source of profit. CBC by definition provides far more in terms of Canadian programming. Private broadcasters do also make commitments to produce Canadian content, but historically they have spent as much time attempting to dodge, water down, or manipulate those commitments as living up to them.

      • Robin says:

        Totally disagree. Nice try. Good spin. However, the CRTC is established to ensure quality and diversity for mandatory coverage. SUN TV provides neither. We already have CTV and Global. All this argument proves is desperation for a bad product to be subsidized so obnoxious and bombastic megalomaniacs can pretend they are celebrity infotainment gurus: Not! SUN TV is garbage that’s why they are losing money. So, why expect taxpayers, that is, cable subscribers subsidize it. Stick with print media, at least then some domestic birds have an opportunity to express what everyone else thinks about the Sun product.

      • JamesF says:

        So their principles are their principles… so long as they don’t lose money.

        The failure of Sun News is pretty easily to figure out… they make an inferior product in what seems to me to be an already well-served market.

  2. Robin says:

    I disagree. If Sun TV gets mandatory coverage then there should be an NDP channel, a Liberal channel and a Green Party channel, and, even a Bloc Quebecois channel. CTV and Global already provide alternative but reputable viewpoints to counterbalance the CBC. Sun TV is trash shock “journalism” or info-tainment… with all due respect to Warren Kinsella’s refreshing interludes of calm insights and logic.

    • Jon Powers says:

      What a dumb comment. No one is preventing anyone from starting an “NDP” channel. It’s called the free market. Allow everyone to compete on a level playing field. If there is a market for cbc and sun news, and The Tommy Douglas Channel ™ so be it. If not, they go away. Let the viewers decide.

      • J.W. says:

        Sorry, Jon, they want the CRTC to decide not the market, not the viewers.

        CBC and CTV news channels are broadly based offering a wide range of news and opinion. You can’t allow Sun News this privileged position unless there are other similar channels in the game as well, as Robin suggests. And Al Jazeera, Catholics, Evangelicals, NDP, unions, etc all get their own mandatory carriage channels?

        Go the CTV route Sun News and I say you get it for sure, but a strident, one sided, propaganda based, PC Party house organ no way!

      • Robin says:

        Jon, Duh, exactly my point. Sun TV is the Conservative channel. Now, go away, the market has decided.

    • Cath says:

      this is the funniest post I’ve read in a LONG time.
      You’re right Warren…again.

  3. Murray Risling says:

    Still not fair as CBC receives huge government funding. Nevertheless, mandatory carriage is the least that can be done. Thank you.

  4. partrick says:

    No, the CBC is a public broadcaster representing Canada and it’s people, funded by tax dollars it should be available to the public since we have already paid for it.
    The Sun and really every other private media platform should earn their market share – I don’t need to be forced to pay for it.
    And if it dies, well, the market has spoken and we’re better off anyway with it’s rancid nonsense off the air.

  5. Jeff says:

    “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” is how I have always described the Toronto Star in regards to the Liberal Party. And that is not really a criticism of the Star. The Star is a small l liberal newspaper, not a Liberal newspaper. CBC is rather centrist. The Liberals have never ever had a partisan paper supporting them, except in the editorial immediately prior to the election. Even there, they could not count on support from their supposed “allies”, who frankly did not owe the Liberals.

    The Sun is a partisan newspaper. (So is the National Post.) The Liberals have never had partisan media. NOW is a partisan newspaper for the NDP, but that hardly counts. The Liberals have no dailies, and never have. They have no networks either. Same with the NDP. The Conservatives are the only party with partisan major media.

    As long as the Sun is a partisan network, they should have to be purchased by partisans. The CBC, on the other hand, is our public broadcaster. Every developed country has one, except the States, and PBS does not really fit the bill. I suppose this paragraph should be my main point.

    But I will finish with this. The idea that the Sun is a counter-balance to a “biased” CBC (biased in the same way that evidence is biased against fear-based emotion) is like saying a house demolition is a counter-balance to an ant problem in the basement. Where CBC gives us news that may include slight personal bias, the Sun gives us talking points right out of the PMO. It’s like comparing apples and carbon monoxide.

  6. Stew B says:

    I would agree with having no mandatory carriage for any channel, CBC included.
    As it is now I am forced to $60/month on a couple of bundles to get the 12 channels I like watching with a bunch (60 or more) that I don’t watch.

    I would prefer to choose the 12 channels I want to watch – my customized bundle – and pay upt to $1.50/channel/month (+HST). We should be free to choose and not be stuck with mandatory anything. It would then be up to each broadcaster or channel owner to make their products competitive. Those that don’t earn their viewership die, as it should be.

  7. wsam says:

    How about properly fund the CBC, enabling it to fulfil its mandate. As with, for example, the BBC, which supplied the original model.

    If, unlike Margret Thatcher, you believe something like society exists, then a good way to serve that society is to provide it with a cultural and information-disseminating institution which is as politically-neutral as possible. As a way to reinforce that society. Shore it up and strengthen it.

    If, on the other hand, you believe that what people call Canadian-society is nothing more than a disparate group of separate interests, some of which overlap, some not, mainly defined by our consumer-choices, geography and work — then who cares?

    Our importance is as consumers of news-product. What I choose to consume is in no way superior or better than anyone else’s choice, so the state should not favour one choice over another. The state’s role is to facilitate our consumption and ensure its availability.

    Nothing rises above opinion. This is Ford Nation territory.

    Since nothing like society exists then neutrality does not exist, not even in the abstract. Partisanship is inevitable and welcome. It is to be applauded. Objectivity should not be privileged, even if only as an impossible-to-meet journalistic standard.

  8. wsam says:

    The debate over the CBC is so emotional because it so quickly reduces to first principles.

    A set of values which recognizes society and seeks to uphold it: stands for integrity and honesty, however those ideals are impossible to meet.

    Another set of values, which dismisses the possibility of society, cheers on tribalism and point-scoring in the mold of Ezra Levant.

    Objectivity is hard. Look at CTV. It tries to be politically-neutral — but then, for some unfathomable reason, it puts on bottle-blond, Conservative-activist Mercedes Stephenson as a ‘reporter’ covering the census. It’s ridiculous. She is the most partisan person imaginable. And they have her reporting on the census.

    The CBC might fall down in their mandate but they try. They are serious journalist committed to the values of the journalist profession and dedicated to serving this abstracted-construction we call Canada. The other networks are, at root, commercial enterprises.

    Ideally Canada should decide to fund the CBC properly. It should do what market pressures mean the commercial networks won’t or cannot. Then let the commercial networks fight it out in the commercial sphere, producing and marketing commercially-viable entertainment.

    But, of course, that won’t work because we have a major political party, the one currently in power, which fundamentally doesn’t believe Canada exists except as an expression of geography. And we are back to people who love the CBC arguing against people who think the CBC is communist.

    And people wonder how Rob Ford ever got elected.

    • partrick says:

      I will be using this and claiming as my own – just so you know. Well said.

    • Graham says:

      What part of their mandate to Canadian culture covers the CBC launching a music downloading service full of American artists to compete with iTunes, exactly?

      • Robin says:

        Graham, the part that feels it must cater to the Conservative Canadians who really want to be Americans. Although I respect the CBC’s sensitivity to this small group of self-loathing Canadian American wannabes, I appreciate it is their attempt to show they can hold their nose and even cater to Canadians who don’t like Canada or Canadian artists.

    • Steve T says:

      What constitutes “partisan” is really in the eye of the beholder. When I look at some of the hatchet-jobs that the CBC performs on anything right-wing or corporate (ever seen “Marketplace”?), and listen to the atrociously biased CBC Radio programming (as well as highly left-wing), to me it seems the CBC and SNN are fairly evenly biased.

      • Robin says:

        CBC program Marketplace: you mean the show that exposes corporate and business unethical conduct, malfeasance, etc., and you consider that to be “hatchet jobs”? I suppose you must believe Mike Duffy is a Saint and Rob Ford is a boy scout. I can understand why you think SNN is a counter balance to the CBC. Thank you, I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. You should be on the Comedy Network, it’s the counter balance to Sun News Network, it relieves the pain and nausea.

      • partrick says:

        How is CBC radio left wing? How is criticism of wrong doing in the “marketplace” left wing? How is the CBC Left wing. I know you have been told that repeatedly, but that doesn’t make it true. I’ve asked this question multiple times and the general response has been “Are you for real? You’re drinking the Kool-Aid! You’re a pinko commie obviously” None of which explains how the CBC is left wing.
        I wonder if that means most of the complainers don’t know what left wing actually means, or just assume that anything isn’t pitched at an incoherent level of faux outrage and disgust must be left wing.

  9. jp says:

    It’s also harder to compete if your audience is minescule and most of your personalities alarming, present company excepted of course.

    • Graham says:

      Of course Sun News’ audience is smaller than CBCNN or CTV’s all news channel. They’re only available to 40% of the homes the others are.

      What are all you Sun News hater’s scared of? I don’t like the CBC. Do I think it should be taken off the air? NO. Defunded? Hell yes, but not taken off the air.

      So, if you don’t like sun news, don’t watch it.

      • jp says:

        I’m not a hater. I feel sorry for Sun News!

      • wsam says:

        Sun News is ridiculous. It’s unfunny comedy made by weird white guys who have never successfully told a joke.

        It is not ‘news’.

        It is not entertaining.

        It loses a lot of money.

        What is the point? To give voice to disgruntled middle-aged men in the suburbs who don’t want to pay their taxes? They are already running the country.

        The point of Sun News is to be one more brick thrown at the CBC’s television dominance of Quebec. That is all. All this crap about the CBC’s billion-dollar subsidy (a lie, it is less than that and it isn’t a subsidy that money represents its operating budget) etc .., is designed to help the CBC’s Quebec rivals, who are Separatists.

        Graham. You are on the side of the Separatists. Good work buddy

  10. AltaFats says:

    Actually, I believe the CRTC decision does not mandate mandatory carriage for CBC Newsworld in all of Canada. It only mandates that CBC Newsworld be available in Francophone markets. And RDI be
    available in English markets.
    CBC Newsworld and CTV news channel are not under mandatory carriage in English speaking markets in Canada. They were but that changed years ago.

  11. Greg from Calgary says:

    To me the issue isn’t “what is fair for Sun News’ but, “what is fair for me the consumer.” I don’t like paying for channels I don’t want. I want a system where there is no mandatory channels and no bundels. Allowing Sun News to line up and pick my pocket doesn’t help.

    • wsam says:

      Right. This is nothing more than a question of how to structure the choices available to consumers of entertainment products.

      If you think like that the CBC has already lost.

  12. Philippe says:

    I don’t support both. One transmits news, the other one doesn’t- a pretty large distinction.

  13. po'd says:

    Diluting the news market and the available revenues in a relatively small market, with a propaganda agency that shills for the Harper party, until it’s positions are ever so embarrassingly obvious, does not serve the interests of Canadians or Democracy.

    There’s a piece in the Globe today that speaks to the beat down the Harper party is hell bent to put on the CBC. You should read it.

    • Graham says:

      Have you ever watched Sun News? Judging by your comments, I would say not.

      As for the Conservatives trying to hell bent on putting a “beat down” on the CBC, lets look at that:

      A CPC MP has introduced a motion to force anyone at the CBC making more than $188,000 to have their names and position released publicly, much like Ontario does with the Sunshine List. The CPC are trying to gut their own members bill by raising the level for public disclosure to somewhere around $440,000. Yep, that sure sounds like a beat down

      They also want involvement in contracts given to ALL Crown corporations, including the CBC, to ensure the deals are financially sustainable. For example, not giving Canada Post employees large salary and benefit increases when their revenues are in the crapper.

      • Robin says:

        Graham, you are talking about changing the CBC from an independent public broadcaster to a State Owned Broadcaster like in Russia, China, Chile, etc., where news readers read the Prime Minister’s new releases verbatim. First, why don’t you get your friend Harper to tell the truth about Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy and the money they exchanged before demanding that reputable independent crown corporations become extensions of this Prime Minister’s office. Demanding to make salaries public is just the first step. By the way, Graham, how much do you earn annually? A Conservative is someone who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. The CBC and other crown corporations provide value to building a society. I am sure Alberta wishes is still had the Alberta Energy Corporation which was established by Premier Peter Lougheed. It operated pipelines from Fort McMurray to deliver oil sands product to markets. If the neo-Conservatives under Ralph Klein had not sold Alberta Energy, Alberta may have built a pipeline to tidewater and world markets already. Unfortunately, Alberta Energy was absorbed by a myopic private owned corporation whose main interest was quarterly profits and shareholder value rather than the national interest or public interest. It’s laughable because the right wing conservatives have hooped themselves because of their simplistic ideology but it is also sad. The CBC is an asset. Some people don’t understand that because they have never lived in Canada without the CBC; some people must experience pain to understand it, others are blessed with the ability to imagine what pain might be like and strive to avoid it. Even, in the face of small fierce opposition from the others.

      • wsam says:

        Graham. Why do you hate Canada? Separatist.

  14. KP says:

    CBC is a public service. Sun ‘News’ is a CPC echo chamber. There’s a difference.

  15. Al says:

    Warren,

    You talk about fairness, so I’ll agree with e links you provided. The way I read it, mandatory carriage as approved is for CBC’s French language news channel, RDI, in english provinces.

    So I’ll agree with you and say that on the principle of fairness, Sun News should be mandatory carriage in French Provinces, so Quebec.

    Of course, Quebecor owning Sun and Videotron means Sun news is already forced onto the majority of Quebecers, so not sure what that improves for them, but hey, if French news is must carry in english Canada, then fairness dictates Sun News be must carry in Quebec.

  16. Scotian says:

    There are three comments already in this thread which tend to reflect my views on this matter, they were the following three: Stacey Kaser on May 29, 2013 at 7:05 pm, wsam on May 29, 2013 at 12:14 pm, and wsam on May 29, 2013 at 12:24 pm. The CBC is something no other channel is envisioned to be, nor required by mandate to be, and to pretend otherwise to compare SUNNEWS with CBC being “fair is fair” is manifestly unfair and unreasonable in my books. For the reasons already laid out in the prior three posts referenced it is manifestly not the same thing, indeed CBC should not by rights be needing to even compete in the marketplace the way everyone else does given its fundamental mandate, but that has been eroded by those that have either a partisan hatred for it or those that profoundly and honestly disagree on ideological/philosophical grounds (the latter in my view is a much smaller percentage of the total opposition than many within that opposition would claim, but I do see a genuine group of true believers acting from principle with the larger group), who while I can understand and respect for feeling that way I disagree with given the nature of this nation both in terms of size/population and traditions/cultural heritage. The problem with SUNNEWS is that is is primarily there to promote a political viewpoint, that is its fundamental purpose and not be first and foremost a news service/provider, while CBC is clearly mandated to not do any such thing (despite the clams by some that it does, I disagree, I think it tries to show all major POVs on our political spectrum, and quite honestly I am more than exhausted by this whine from the political right of media bias/conspiracy against them, in the private sector the media is owned by the rich and powerful and CBC by itself even if it tried could not offset that or even balance it, so please give it its long deserved rest) as well as to serve much more than just reflecting any political POV within its content, as already has been pointed out by the others referenced as well as others in this thread.

    The problem with the idea of giving SUNNEWS such a position is that it levers a purported news service but in reality a news service with a clear political leaning and agenda unlike any other in this nation onto the same platform as services such as CBC and even CTV networks, both main and news channels, which do not have such an open and clear political agenda within their news service (although CTV in my books had a major one while Duffy was their national political editor as well as host of that show of his, and I do think that was a problem but even with that it still came nowhere near what SUNNEWS is being, and yes I have made myself watch it on several occasions so as to judge for myself). While yes SUNNEWS may well on occasion bring forward a story not being given its proper due in the rest of the media that in my books is not enough to make it a mandated service, especially since in the internet age there are other avenues for such to be heard, it is not like we are back in the old days where the networks were all we had, back then one might have had an argument, these days though, nope.

    I understand Kinsella is taking the side of his employer, and even to be fair I suspect he genuinely believes his argument, but I simply cannot go along with it and I suspect in the end that will be the view of both the majority of Canadians and the CRTC itself, at least I would hope so. While I would be happy to see a politically driven news service compete against others of similar bent, that is not the media reality we have now and to try and pretend it is so as to justify this claim to keep the channel up and running is for me more than a bit distasteful, sorry. That’s my take on this issue.

  17. Spencer says:

    Warren I don’t see why Sun News deserves mandatory carriage. Ideally the media is supposed to provide a general service to inform the public so they themselves cat act in an informed manner. Mandatory carriage as far as news in my opinion should be for news organizations that act as a good relatively unbiased source of information so the public can be informed and make their own informed opinions so the public sphere can function properly.

    Sun News and the people running it have openly stated at times that they have a conservative bias and that spreading conservative ideology their goal. Most of their major commentators like Levant, Coren etc are very conservative. Most of the news I see from the Sun chain usually at least takes a more conservative slant, especially on areas like taxation, government spending and regulation. Now that they are trying to get mandatory carriage though Sun News has been trying to claim they are an unbiased news network, just more ‘dynamic’ and ‘exciting’ than say CTV or Global.

    To provide an obvious example of how two-faced Sun News has been about this, while making that claim Sun News is an unbiased news network they also wrote letters to socially conservative anti-abortion groups bragging about how they gave more coverage to anti-abortion stances than any other news organization and requested that the anti-abortion crowd write letters to the CRTC in support of their application. Again saying ‘we’re unbiased’ to the CRTC while saying ‘we’re conservative’ to the anti-abortion and social conservative crowds.

    I fully feel that Sun News has the right to exist, but the CRTC was correct last time they rejected the application for mandatory carriage and listed Sun News as a ‘specialty’ channel. Sun doesn’t count as an unbiased news network, they are a biased news network. You could probably call them an opinionated news network. This means that they fall more appropriately into the category of a specialty channel. If they cannot survive without mandatory carriage though, sorry that’s just the way the market goes.

  18. wsam says:

    I collect Garfield dolls. Jim Davis-lasagne-eating-orange-cat-centric coverage and viewpoints are almost completely absent from traditional, lame-stream media.

    Can I have a mandatory-carriage television network, please?

  19. West Guy says:

    I think people here are missing the big picture. Whether CBC is a public service or not, whether SNN is a valid news channel or not is irrelevant. We shouldn’t be demanding must-carry designation for one channel or another to the benefit/opposition of a segment of the consumer base, we should be demanding per channel subscription and greater consumer choice for the entire consumer base. I rarely watch the CBC – and I get along just fine so I’m not sure how much of a “public service” it is – I sometimes watch SNN and I will tune into APTN once in a while (and I’m not even Native). Clearly, my opinions are not the same as a lot of people here so should I not oppose having my cable dollars go to support your viewing choices as much as you oppose having your cable dollars support mine?

    The notion of a must-carry list is beyond antiquated by current technology standards. Why should I have to buy a bundle of channels I don’t watch just to get the one channel I do watch? 20 years ago, there wasn’t a way to do that. Not so much anymore. Not only does the technology exist to allow cable providers to provide per-channel subscriptions allowing me to pay for only the channels I watch (there are already providers in the US that do this), I can already buy on a per show and per episode basis (itunes, netflix, hulu, channel websites), and I don’t even need to have cable service to do it. There is a segment of the viewing population classed as “zero television” households, people who watch on computers and mobile devices through systems that allow per-show and per-episode billing selection. To this segment, which is growing, a must-carry list (and by extension, the CRTC) is no more relevant than current telegraph rates.

    And I’m a little surprised that more CBCers don’t back the SNN application but maybe they don’t see it the way I do. By allowing SNN to play in the same cable sandbox as the CBC, it makes it more difficult for SNN to differentiate it from the CBC. After all, they can’t criticize the CBC for feeding from the same revenue trough that it’s now feeding from. As well, if the CRTC denies the application knowing that SNN will likely fold up as a result, it opens the door for the “sink or swim on your own merits” argument to be applied to other channels as well, including the CBC. You thought the “Defund the CBC” rabble was loud now, just wait to see what happens if SNN isn’t provided the same consumer access as it’s competitors (I get CTV and CBC as part of the basic cable bill, I have to pay an additional $70 over and above that just to get SNN, that’s certainly not a level playing field).

    But as long as we seem to want to embrace the “old ways” if there’s going to be a must-carry list, SNN should be on it.

    • billg says:

      Best answer yet! A grown up progressive country with grown up progressives should not be afraid of SNN and shouldnt pick who gets must carry preferences.

  20. deb s says:

    I guess the only true way of solving this, is for CBC ( Canadian Taxpayers) to buy SunNews from QMI. I then can see how they can be offered the same deal:) So its not competition but more assimilation and then SunNeWs can survive, but I think that we may have to modify the programming and perhaps retire a few of the more challenging personalities. I would be willing to retire Mansbridge to counterbalance that move:) Plus if Mansbridge retires we can afford SunNews:)

  21. wsam says:

    The big picture is that cable is dead. D-e-a-d. Dead.

  22. The Dude says:

    @Steve T.
    “to me it seems the CBC and SNN are fairly evenly biased.”
    How are they equally biased? That is such a load. The pretend news network is borderline hate speech at times. Do you notice they don’t really use the word “journalists” to describe themselves? There is a huge difference between the CBC SOMETIMES leaning left of centre to the hard right wing pretend news network. Besides, CBC is a national service. Pretend News serves who?
    Basically there is some real ideological hypocrisy here. The so-called morally superior right that become aroused at the “market” don’t mind looking for mandatory coverage when they fail in the market.
    The biggest problem with the right is that they think there is only a left and right. Hello? The centre. You know, where most Canadians are and Harperr pretends to be

  23. JamesF says:

    It’s really quite simple… ignore for a moment the hypocracy element that exists with SNN demanding it, the CRTC has criteria for manditory carriage, either SNN meets it or they don’t. If they meet it they should get it and if they don’t they shouldn’t.

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