Canuck Fox News-style net sparks row

Cable news in Canada is set to get a lot more controversial with Monday’s launch of media giant Quebecor’s Sun News, a right-wing channel modelled on Fox News.

For the past 15 years, the cable news biz has been dominated by centrist channels CBC News Network and CTV News Channel.

Sun News Network is setting itself up as a scrappy, populist, conservative alternative — and that has upset lots of people. There have been petitions to ban the channel, which its opponents call “Fox News North.” The Sun News Network slogan is “hard news and straight talk” and its on-air talent includes conservative radio host Charles Adler and author Ezra Levant.

The network is run by Kory Teneycke, who used to be director of communications for Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Teneycke and Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau have blasted the CBC and CTV news networks, saying they don’t represent the interests of Canadians.

Sun News may not reach all viewers. The Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission turned down Quebecor’s request for a license that would force cable and satellite operators to carry the channel. Instead, the federal broadcast regulator granted a license that allows distribs to decide whether to carry it or not.

Sun News has deals with Quebecor’s Videotron (which operates cable systems in Quebec) and Shaw (which has cable systems in the West) and it is expected to be in 6 million households. It does not have a deal with Toronto-based Rogers, the country’s largest cable operator.

Some in Ontario will see the web as it occupies the same spot on the cable guide as it did under its previous incarnation as Sun TV.

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