Regular readers will remember that I have had a bee in my bonnet about Sun TV, perhaps better known as “Fox News North”. This is an attempt by Quebecor, a media company, to create a 24-hour news channel styled under Fox News. Critics, myself included, have pointed out the destructive influence that Fox News has on the political climate of the United States, pandering to the biases and prejudices of its funders and attempting to shape the political debate rather than report news honestly. Its craven disregard for journalistic ethics and unrelenting hypocrisy have earned it the deserved scorn of pretty much everyone outside the Republican party.
Despite declaring both my bias and the reasons why my bias was irrelevant to why this station was a bad idea, the conservative readers of this blog (both of them, I guess ) have accused me of being opposed to any point of view that challenges the liberal monopoly on the media. It is accusations like this that make it extremely difficult for me to take conservatives seriously – I have, on this very blog, defended the free speech rights of anti-gay bigots, racists, theocrats, Holocaust deniers and anti-vaccine/alt-med lunatics. You think I draw the line at conservatives? There is no line, and your criticisms are completely without merit. My objection is to the standards of practice that I see evinced on a daily basis by the propaganda arm of the Republican party, and your attempts to equivocate the so-called (but utterly evidence-free) liberal media bias, a phrase invented by the Republican party, of Canadian media with the clear lack of ethics of Fox News do nothing to persuade me of anything other than the fact that you are anti-liberal.
Part of the Sun TV application was for what is known as a “must-carry” license. This would require all cable providers to include Sun TV as part of their regular programming, rather than making it something that people can opt in to, or out of. As much as supporters of Sun TV whinge that “if you don’t like it just don’t watch”, forcing me to pay for the channel so that they can achieve a fan base belies this trite claim. As a matter of principle, forcing opinions on others is a claim that conservatives are always leveling at liberals. As I suspected, and as evinced by Fox News, the kind of people who support Sun TV are perfectly happy to abandon their principles as soon as is convenient (which also explains many of the actions of our federal government). I don’t object to conservatism when it is honestly come by, but I can’t stomach hypocrisy.
Luckily, and at least in part to the public outcry of you good people who signed the petition, Sun TV has withdrawn its application for this special license:
Quebecor Inc. says it is no longer seeking a controversial special licence that would give the new right-leaning Sun TV 24-hour news channel a three-year boost in seeking out viewers. Chief executive Pierre Karl Péladeau told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday that he would likely drop his request for a must-carry exemption on his Category II licence application. The request was expected to be hotly contested, with rivals and many civic groups lining up to oppose the application. Last week, the advocacy group Avaaz.org dropped off 10 boxes to the CRTC containing more than 21,000 letters from Canadians opposed to the special licence.
Now this is not all good news for me, since the withdrawal of the application means that there will likely be no public inquiry or hearing, and that the application to broadcast will likely be approved quickly. However, we live in a capitalist system, which means that if you have a product that you think there is a market for, you can certainly sell it. While I am completely opposed to even the existence of a Fox News-like channel, I have no legitimate grounds to protest its moving forward. If we can have pornography, MTV, reality shows and other things that I think are injurious to the public good (well, maybe pornography gets a pass), we can certainly have a channel where opinion is masked as news. I just won’t watch it.
While I’m sure there will be many more tricks pulled by the federal government to funnel support to a station that will be completely uncritical and unflappably supportive of its undemocratic agenda, at least it will live or die by whether or not it can convince anyone outside of Alberta to pay attention. We must be thankful for small victories, I suppose.