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Sep 01 2010

Harper wants Canada to have its own Fox News

Evidently Stephen Harper is not satisfied with running a minority government like one long game of chicken, or having the truth inconveniently turn up every time they try to pull the wool over Canadian citizens’ eyes (remember “unreported crimes are skyrocketing” as an excuse for pouring billions into unnecessary new jails? You should — it wasn’t THAT long ago!). Now our favorite local tin pot dictator has gotten envious of the propaganda machine available to the right-wingers in the States and wants to make a Schedule-1 cable channel (on every TV watcher’s dime!) for Fox News.

But wait, you say! Fox News is already on most Canadian cable packages! Oh, but therein lies the rub — that particular channel is quite hostile to Canada, and wouldn’t toe the Canadian Conservatives’ line. That’s why Harper, Murdoch and Ailes all met to discuss creating Fox News North, a move that would be entirely funded by every cable-subscribing goon in the country, most of whom would have no idea they were doing so (and probably wouldn’t care). George W explains.

Mr. Harper not only plans to create a right-wing Conservative-talking-points style network here in Canada, but he would like it to be a Category 1 digital station, meaning it will be a mandatory part of one of the digital cable packages and funded partly by every viewers cable television fees. There is currently a petition being prepared by Avaaz.org that will run in major Canadian Newspapers once 100,000 signatures are collected.
[...]
The bigger issue here is not whether Canadians want or need a right wing news agency. The issue is why a sitting Prime Minister is actively working to get a license for any network. Another good question is why a former spokesman for our Prime Minister should be in charge of the political coverage of Sun Media group, one of the largest media consortiums in our country.

Stephen Harper needs to focus on the task of running a country, not on building a conservative propaganda feedback loop. The network itself would also require a systematic dismantling of CRTC regulations regarding balanced coverage during our election cycle, something I can only imagine would make Little Stevie beam with joy.

Go sign the petition. The last thing we need is a far-right propaganda machine of Fox News’ ilk, further coarsening our political dialog and driving the polarization that’s happening all around us — a polarization that smacks uncannily of having been engineered to ruin the good thing we have. Or, rather, had. At this rate, if we ever shake Harper free from his position of power, rebuilding the democratic processes that have already been shat upon is going to take far longer than a term or two. Much of the damage of polarization and of coarsening the political discourse is already done. We’re no longer, as it were, “above” that kind of nonsense.

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  1. 1
    Stephanie Z

    If it happens, I hope the rest of your media is at least strong enough not to report Fox’s “news” as…well…news. The U.S. station doesn’t have much in the way of viewers, but they get most of their influence from swinging the rest of the media further to the right in reaction.

  2. 2
    Jason Thibeault

    That’s exactly what I’m worried about. This is ALREADY news. If it succeeds, it’s bound to keep churning up the news cycles. And if it’s a mandatory schedule-1 channel, people will watch it because they’ll HAVE it. Thus driving more influence and providing them with the advertising dollars they need to keep it going.

    I was already annoyed when CTV NewsNet came out, making a 24-hour cable news channel for Canadian consumption, insofar as it’s cable-packages-only, and has the same problems as your cable news channels.

    I feel a tension headache coming on.

  3. 3
    sinned34

    Not related to this post, but here’s some great reporting from the Gulf region.

  4. 4
    Ben Zvan

    Or, with any luck, the opposition can get Fox North billed as an entertainment network.

  5. 5
    George W.

    Thanks for picking up this story Jason. Reading that story made my blood boil. I also got my story linked to by a news aggregate, although I wish they had have picked up yours, you did a much more thorough reporting job.
    As Stephanie said,the problem with Fox News North is that they will manufacture issues, and other networks will be obliged to cover them as well for fear of being seen as “out-of-the-loop”.
    I bet the second FNN gets on air you are going to see a bunch more Conservative MPs doing interviews, now that there is no one there with the ridiculously easy job of making them look like idiots.
    The Cons have learned to avoid media at all costs, knowing full well they risk another Tony Clement Twittergate.

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    More thorough? I pullquoted you and spat a bit of invective. The only thing unique to my post is the back-link to the puffin-poop nonsense.

  7. 7
    Stephanie Z

    I do have to wonder how the cable news expansion would have played out if we hadn’t lost the Fairness Doctrine in the U.S. I admit that the stations that still attempt to present “both” sides don’t do a good job of it, but I can’t help thinking Fox couldn’t possibly be what it is if the doctrine were still around. Does Canada have anything similar, or has it never been necessary in your very different media atmosphere?

  8. 8
    George W.

    Stephanie,
    We have the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, which is an arms-length industry controlled body designed to handle complaints. As I mentioned in my post, we also have a section of the Elections Act which governs equal time to all parties in broadcast media who are registered with Elections Canada. This mostly governs commercial advertisment, but coupled with an obscure section of the CRTC regulations defining an “infomercial”, many Fox News broadcasts in the U.S. could be classified as an infomercial by Canadian regulatory standards. Thus the law would need to change.

  9. 9
    sinned34

    Thus the law would need to change.

    According to whom? I think defining Fox News broadcasts as infomercials is a great idea!

  10. 10
    Stephanie Z

    George, that’s what I get for taking you at your word that Jason was being more thorough than you were. :)

  11. 11
    Jason Thibeault

    Yeah, that’s definitely a bad assumption to make. George is far too humble.

    The Elections Canada guidelines under the CRTC only seem to apply to elections-related materials. Since we’re talking about a year-round propaganda bullhorn, I’m not sure they apply here. It sure would be nice to call them infomercials, but I don’t know that that’s going to work all that well in practice.

  12. 12
    George W.

    I was referring specifically to election cycles.
    There is a complaints process for biased newscasting, though it is likely already bombarded by right wing nut jobs who are convinced that not spewing vitriol at homosexuals during newscasts is a left wing conspiracy. It is also an industry controlled oversight committee so I doubt it would want to put a dog in the fight over excessive editorialism.
    During an election, stations in Canada are required to give equal time to each recognized party by Elections Canada. My “ripple of evil”, if you will, is that at present the CRTC deems any program that forwards the interests of one product or service at the expense of its competitors to be classified an infomercial, either way,it will fall under Elections Canada guidelines during an Election cycle. An infomercial designation also brings into the equation our current regulations regarding third party ads during an election cycle.
    If Harper wishes to bring Fox News to Canada, he will need to tweak many of the regulations in both the Elections Act as well as with the CRTC….
    Loony half-baked conspiracy? I think not…..

  13. 13
    George W.

    I was going to start a new series of posts about Canadian Politics, starting with a list of political parties in Canada and then moving on to the leaders of our major parties in a run up to the inevitable election that is coming soon. Stephanie and other folks who frequent Canadian blogs might benefit from the background information, as well as grasping the subtle differences in Canadian and American politics.

  14. 14
    Jason Thibeault

    You’re absolutely right in that assumption, the CBSC is already slammed with people claiming liberal bias. It’s funny though. Whenever you actually look at the stats for airtime equality, there’s no liberal bias whatsoever. I guess it’s just that they feel their authority figures are infallible and resent any evidence otherwise (calling it “bias” makes them feel better about things). Is it somehow endemic to being a far-right-winger that you have to dislike and disdain reality itself?

  15. 15
    sinned34

    As a former far-right-winger (I got better!), I can confirm that huge amounts of time and vitriol are wasted on screaming claims of anti-conservative bias. Ask pretty much any conservative for specific examples of Liberal bias, and most would have have a very difficult time presenting evidence supporting their claims. It’s just another bumper-sticker and/or t-shirt catchphrase that basically means, “the media won’t focus on the stories we want them to tell!”

    Merely read wade through the comments in the reporting pieces regarding Fox News North, and you’ll see that many conservatives only consider reports that affirm their biases as “balanced”. In the same breath that they condemn the CBC or CTV as “commie rags”, they’ll extol the virtues of Fox News as unbiased, balanced news that reports only the facts.

  16. 16
    George W.

    The problem with right wingers is that they truly believe they are in the majority and a handful of elbow-patch sporting, socialist intelligensia (mostly found in universities and working for media outlets)have an ongoing plot to suffocate the voice of reason.
    So to answer your question, yes, yes they do.

  17. 17
    George W.

    Oooh Jason,
    My wish came true…you were picked up by the same aggregator. I hope you bask in the extra one site visit you get from it. I know I did.

  18. 18
    sinned34

    Uh, sorry. That was probably me logging in from my work PC. I don’t usually read my favorite blogs at work, but I made an exception this time.

  1. 19
    Harper wants Canada to have its own Fox News « Lousy Canuck | Canada News Brief

    [...] See the article here: Harper wants Canada to have its own Fox News « Lousy Canuck [...]

  2. 20
    Update on Avaaz petition vs Sun TV aka ‘Fox News North’ « Lousy Canuck

    [...] attempt to force Sun TV, the propaganda wing of the Conservative party, on all cable users. This is the infamous “Fox News North” station about which Harper commiserated with Murdoch et al. Dear amazing Avaaz community across [...]

  3. 21
    CRTC: a pawn in Harper’s larger game? « Lousy Canuck

    [...] ban on “fake news” in the media, in an attempt to pave the way for Sun TV, a station Harper and Rupert Murdoch are conjointly attempting to bring to market. The timing is less than coincidental that Murdoch, owner of Fox News and now a virtual monopoly of [...]

  4. 22
    CRTC: a pawn in Harper’s larger game? | Lousy Canuck

    [...] ban on “fake news” in the media, in an attempt to pave the way for Sun TV, a station Harper and Rupert Murdoch are conjointly attempting to bring to market. The timing is less than coincidental that Murdoch, owner of Fox News and now a virtual monopoly of [...]

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