Canadians troubled by the loony right Sun News Network's tireless campaign for "mandatory carriage" on cable TV and the forced subsidies from consumers that would have gone with it are entitled to feel some satisfaction at this week's ruling by the federal broadcast regulator denying Sun TV's demands.
But opponents of Sun's style of gutter broadcasting should not assume the ruling Thursday by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is the end of the network's campaign to bury its snout in the public trough.
Don't imagine for a moment that without cash from mandatory carriage Sun News Network is going away, as Vice-President Kory Teneycke and other network officials repeatedly promised during their campaign to bully the CRTC into supporting Sun's bid to dip into cable-subscribers' pockets, or that their demands for a more favourable ruling are likely to slacken even momentarily.
No sooner had the CRTC's decision been announced than Sun News unblushingly changed its story, vowing to continue its fight for subsidies and a better position on the tuner for its dogmatic ideological bias, dubious facts and at-times hateful commentary.
In a story in yesterday's Edmonton Sun headlined "Sun News battles on," the parliamentary bureau reporter for the self-described "plucky, upstart news channel" and its newspaper arm noted that the CRTC's decision "lays out a proposal for a new category of licenses for Canadian all-news channels" that may solve SNN's problem with the flaccid market for market-fundamentalist bromides and hateful on-air rants.
"We intend to participate fully in those proceedings and will continue to operate pending an outcome," said Teneycke, who by no coincidence was once Prime Minister Stephen Harper's communications director.
In this regard, the defiance of the network and its parent, Quebecor Inc., may very well be justified.
Elsewhere in the same edition of the paper, commentator Michael Coren proclaimed, "the Sun shines on" -- or, at any rate, it is said here, to adopt the American vernacular, the Sun will continue to shine you on.
Coren adopted the whining tone typical of thwarted ideologues in such circumstances, claiming the network called “Fox News North” by supporters and opponents alike is a spunky little challenger of the political and economic establishment it in fact represents, and that it speaks for tens of thousands of people it in reality does not, including many Christians.
It would be fair to say Coren was engaging in habitual behaviour when he used the article to equate the views of all Christians with his particular take on Christianity. His appears to be a branch of the religion that has devalued to base metal the Golden Rule prescribed by Jesus when he said, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."
But then, this is a rhetorical technique not so different from that of all Sun News commentators when they claim their angry and tiresome screeds are somehow equivalent to the efforts of the CBC!
Still, Coren was right when he stated that Sun News and its incessant demands for favourable rulings from the Government of Canada are not going to go away.
With all thus brouhaha, it's important to note ample funding has been available and likely remains available for the network -- from the same sources that finance Canada's vast network of market-fundamentalist think tanks, Astro-Turf groups and institutionalized laundries for corporate political donations.
Indeed, it seems likely that at the main goal of Sun News Network's campaign was not so much the paltry $17 million the network claims to be losing and that mandatory carriage would have replenished, as the favourable and accessible place on the TV tuner it would have given the network's offerings.
So it is said here this fight was as much about encouraging larger numbers of Canadians to stumble upon Sun’s broadcasts -- and, perchance, to believe them -- as it was about cash.
So, for a little longer, Sun News commentators like Ezra Levant will have to work a harder to reach and retain their audience.
Speaking of Levant, it is interesting to speculate on how much his unsavoury and occasionally sinister rants, like his racist diatribe against the Roma people in September 2012 or his obscenity-laden attacks on a corporate executive who failed to toe his line on bitumen exports, may have hurt his employer's application.
Teneycke has publicly defended Levant's notorious rant about the Roma, barricading himself inside Sun's "message box" while doing his best to sound contrite about it. In an interview last March, he refused to acknowledge the patently racist intentions of Levant's remarks while suggesting they were merely meant to be satirical!
As noted here at the time, anyone who heard the original nine-minute episode of Levant's program would find this explanation hard to square with what was actually said. Unfortunately, readers will be hard pressed to confirm that now, since Sun News long ago washed all copies of Levant's screed down the corporate Memory Hole and a recording placed on Youtube.com by a third party was removed "due to a copyright claim by Sun News Network."
It is probably impossible to know how much, or even if, Levant's exertions hurt the Sun News Network application. It seems self-evident, however, that they can't have helped it very much.
Regardless, as we have seen, the network's efforts to win a better platform for his on-air propaganda are not likely to abate, and citizens who accept such Canadian values as fairness, tolerance and decency will have little choice but to remain on guard.
This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.
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