MONTREAL — Is Canada ready for Fox News North?
Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau thinks the time has come for the country to have its very own right-of-center news channel with attitude, not unlike Fox News south of the border.
Earlier this month, Montreal-based Quebecor, one of Canada’s leading media companies, announced the launch of Sun TV News, a national news outlet that will be a scrappy alternative to CBC News Network and CTV News Channel.
“English Canada today is ill-served by the incumbent cable news channels,” says Peladeau. “We see a real opportunity in offering Canadians something new, something better, something distinct. It’s time to shake up the players of the existing Canadian broadcasting system. It’s time for a new choice, a new voice.”
Quebecor has snared right-wing pundit Kory Teneycke, former communications director for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to run the operation.
The channel still has to receive the greenlight from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission, the federal broadcast regulator.
This sparked a debate about whether Canadian TV viewers really want such a network.
“I don’t think it’ll fly the way they (Quebecor) want it to,” says Ian Morrison, spokesman for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, a group dedicated to promoting Canadian TV programming. “It butts up against the CRTC policy that requires a balance in news reporting. A point-of-view news network along the lines of Fox News doesn’t cut it.”
However, Morrison thinks the CRTC may grant Quebecor the license but not as a must-carry channel, leaving cable and satellite operators free to decide whether or not to air it while customers can choose whether or not to subscribe to it — making it much less attractive to advertisers.
That more limited license would be of less interest to Quebecor, which wants the new channel to replace Sun TV, an over-the-air station it owns in Toronto.
Quebecor also owns the Sun chain of newspapers, French Canada’s leading network TVA and French-language news network LCN.
Peladeau intends to model Sun TV News partly on LCN, which has been running with more opinionated nightly programming for three years, garnering boffo ratings.
Teneycke says the new channel will be radically different from anything available in Canada right now.
“We will be unapologetically patriotic,” he adds.