Friday June 11, 2010

“Fox News North” Coming to Canada?

By Patrick B. Craine

TORONTO, Ontario, June 11, 2010 ( – With rumours circulating about the launch of a conservative-leaning 24-hour news network in Canada, the editor of Canada’s pro-life newspaper has expressed hopes that the venture could open the public square to a pro-life and pro-family voice.

“Having something to add balance to the overwhelmingly anti-life, anti-family left-wing broadcasters in Canada would be a very welcome development,” commented Paul Tuns of The Interim.

Canada’s media has been abuzz in the last few days over reports that the Montreal-based media conglomerate Quebecor Inc. is seeking a broadcasting license for what has been dubbed “Fox News North,” a conservative news channel to compete with the almost uniformly left-leaning CBC, CTV, Global and other Canadian television news networks.

The project is reportedly headed by Kory Teneycke, former communications director for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was hired this week as Quebecor’s vice president of business development. Teneycke left Harper’s office in July 2009, and has most recently been serving as a pundit for CBC.

Quebecor, which also runs Sun Media, announced Thursday that they had hired veteran journalist David Akin as Sun Media national bureau chief in Ottawa. They’ve also hired Brian Lilley, former Ottawa bureau chief for Astral Media Radio, Canada’s largest private radio broadcaster, as a senior correspondent. It is believed that the two will be key in providing news coverage to the new channel.

“Recruiting is in hyper-drive,” Teneycke posted to Twitter Thursday. “Can’t wait to share some of the names. Great mix of hard news and straight talk.”

According to the Globe and Mail, the company has also been negotiating with conservative pundit Ezra Levant to host one of their opinion-based talk shows. Levant would not substantiate the claims, however, and directed LSN’s questions on the project to Teneycke. The names of talk show hosts are expected to be announced in the summer.

The possibility of a “Fox News North” has already met criticism. “God help us if the neo-cons get their own network to bombard Canadians with their outdated ideology,” complained NDP MP Pat Martin to the Globe and Mail. “Can you imagine Ezra Levant ranting at you around the clock?”

But Teneycke rebutted: “Ranting, done right, can be quite entertaining. Pat Martin is living proof of that.”

It’s also been criticized by CBC columnist Don Newman, who said he detested the idea already back in 2003 when Teneycke mentioned it to him at their first introduction. Fox News, he writes, “has been hugely polarizing,” and “mainly spews out propaganda that is dangerously misleading and often factually wrong.”

“It specializes in drive-by attacks and misrepresentations, and is positively Orwellian at times, claiming to be ‘fair and balanced’ while implying that its competitors aren’t,” he added.

Some say the project could begin as early as 2011. The company, run by billionaire CEO and President Pierre Karl Péladeau, is seeking a broadcasting license from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for “mandatory distribution,” meaning that the channel would come as part of the basic cable package.

To obtain this coveted designation, they will have to show that there is a public need for the channel. Otherwise the company will have to deal with individual cable and satellite companies, and viewers will be free to decide whether or not to subscribe.

Tuns argued that such a channel would certainly meet a public need, and called on the CRTC to avoid making their decision based on politics. “An additional channel providing a little bit of balance to other broadcasters will make all broadcasters better,” he said. “Competition in the news business is a very good thing.”

He also noted that Canadians are very concerned about the American influence. “We would not have to import the right-wing American influence if we helped that grow domestically,” he said.

While he said it is far too early to tell what the channel will be like, he insisted that if it is to be of any benefit to the country it must present conservative views on life and family. “If they want to clearly differentiate themselves from the CBC, they can’t just do it on foreign policy or economic issues,” he explained. “They have to do it also on social issues. That doesn’t necessarily mean promoting a pro-life, pro-family cause. It means at least giving them a voice.”

“Social conservatives should not settle for freedom of expression and freedom of religion being the issues that get covered,” he added. “They should insist that the pro-life, pro-family view be at the table and articulated.”

Teneycke has avoided commenting, and did not respond to LifeSiteNews’ request by press time, but he has said that details will be released within a month.


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