Saturday, July 24, 2010


I was surprised by friends' assumptions that since the CRTC has turned thumbs down on Sun-TV's application for an all-news "tier one" cable licence, the project is "dead in the water," so to speak.

The exodus of casualties from Quebecor's "Sun Media" hard right-turn in the last few days is otherwise proof positive of the launch; as planned in January; of what critics and pundits have described as a Fox News North clone. Respected and middle-of-the road columnists and journalists are being turfed overboard faster than Stephen Harper's popularity expectations.

Notable long-term Sun Media scribes Eric Margolis, Greg Weston, Elizabeth Thompson, Christina Spence and Peter Zimonjic; all gone in the blink of an eye-lid. Kathleen Harris has been kicked-out of the chain's Ottawa Parliamentary Bureau and now is barely hanging-on as one of the media Web's National Reporters. Lest I digress: Greg Weston it seems, is paying a pretty price for creating "all the fuss" by breaking the news over the "Fake Lake" G-20 Summit bloat just a month ago.

"Fair and" is but a notch around the next corner. Toronto based "Sun-TV", which will anchor Canada's assertive new conservatism come next January first is already distributed nation-wide to Bell satellite receivers, and on cable across Newfoundland, New Brunswick and Ontario as well as parts of Alberta. Any additional carriage the CRTC through wisdom, generosity and / or nebulous Cabinet directive allows, is gravy as in the concept of: "If you build it...they will come."

Many already believe that the Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is operating from the American Republican Party's "playbook": To wit - Using any single frightening event or memorable case where justice is seen not to be done as more emotionally riveting and politically useful than reasoned debate. Pretty much anyone who has worked with the Prime Minister knows already that his top priority is message control based on the tenet - Control the message, and you control the outcome. Kory Teneycke, Vice-President of Development at Quebecor, is behind the new Sun-TV venture. He was Mr. Harper's Director of communications. - An entire channel run by people who think that political dialogue panders to extremes and pivots on name calling.

It was just a few days back in the United States that a cleverly edited video of an Agriculture Department Official Shirley Sherrod, which aired on Fox News, caused a furor and eventually forced President Obama to apologize for throwing Ms. Sherrod out of her job in the ensuing uproar. An all too familiar scenario that maybe former Cabinet Minister, Helena Guergis, could share some sympathy with: Two women thrown under a bus as examples of things deemed wrong with politics by an overly partisan too fast paced simplistic accelerated modern news media cycle.

Yes indeed: Canada's political media landscape is shifting rapidly. Doubtless, it is true that the public is better served by having a broad range of perspectives rather than just one or two. But, as President Obama and his Agriculture Secretary just learned; there is inherent danger lurking when fringe elements are given access to a forum for rants based on perceived biases. Canadian politicians in high places should perhaps take a lesson from the example.

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