Folks north of the border will probably be aware of the ongoing SunTV saga.
SunTV, a Quebecor company, has been endeavoring to bring a right-wing slant to Canadian news coverage, an aim that earned them the nickname of “Fox News North.” Additionally, with former Prime Ministerial aide Kory Teneycke at the helm until recently, Sun had sought a Category 1 license policy that would have given it preferred status, making it mandatory for telemedia carriers to include it in basic services. When this failed in July, they attempted to obtain a Category 2 license with a special “must carry” exemption written in that would have meant that SunTV had to be available in at least one tier of services offered by all providers.
It was speculated that Sun was designed to be the ideal propaganda arm for the Conservative government. With a government that has been given to proroguing (essentially shutting down) Parliament to avoid scandal and tightly controlling press access, there was certainly no reason to believe otherwise.
When media noticed pressure brewing and braced for the heads of the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications (CRTC) to be pushed out the door in retaliation for their resistance, the public outcry began. Social movement Avaaz.org began a campaign of opposition (which the Sun clan attempted to sabotage), and even popular author Margaret Atwood drew attention to the issue (albeit unintentionally at first, on Twitter).
Well, the attempt to circumvent the CRTC has failed and SunTV has withdrawn their second bid for mandatory carrier status. The station will still likely come, but it is no longer being forced upon us.
Personally, I’d still expect a shakeup of the CRTC in retaliation, once the powers that be think the media focus has shifted away from all of this and it’s safe to do so. I doubt this is over.
Avaaz wraps it up with a comments board. From their press release (emphasis theirs):
Just 3 weeks ago, our campaign caused the resignation in disgrace of SunTV chief and former Harper spin doctor Kory Teneycke (after we pressed for an RCMP investigation into the sabotage of our petition by people linked to Teneycke). While significant, Teneycke was just replaced by another scandal-ridden spin doctor for another conservative Prime Minister.
But the decision to abandon the forced access to our fees is a huge deal. “Fox News North” (SunTV) has admitted that, if given a free choice, Canadians won’t watch it enough to make it profitable – that’s why they sought a special licence from the CRTC that would force cable companies to carry them, and why the press warned that the CRTC was under pressure from the Harper government to grant this licence. So, the success of our people-powered campaign could mean the end of this attempt to bring a poisonous brand of crony-media to Canada. Hooray! …