Tuesday, 19 February 2013

FOX North Wants Your Money You Moochers!

When we last left our friends over at FOX NORTH, sorry I meant SUN TV News, they were going off the air after loosing their right to broadcast over the air for free (something I wrote about earlier here), and being reduced to the wastelands of cable access. Before that of course they distinguished themselves with their jihad against The CBC for "wasting" tax dollars. And then we had their ambush attacks on bands and arts groups for partaking of the piddly arts grants they can apply for (which I also wrote about here,) while of course somehow forgetting the millions of taxpayer subsidies they themselves get (through their parent company QMI) for their not exactly non-profit Mom & Pop storefront. Unfortunately the CBC didn't forget and gleefully splashed the nasty details on their website. More on that further down. BTW I also wrote about the last days in the SUN TV Bunker here.

You might think that after that kind of public smackdown that the "Principled Conservatives" over at SUN TV might be a little ashamed to march back to the public trough. Boy are you naive. Turns out that to the surprise of nobody SUN TV's anemic rating have flat-lined. Turns out that the "Great Silent Conservative Majority" doesn't actually exist. Or if they do they don't want to pay for the kind of right wing pablum served out by SUN TV. So now this highly profitable multi-media conglomerate desperately needs somebody to ride to their rescue. That would be you. They don't really need you to actually watch their recycled street corner ranting, thank God. No, they just want you to have to pay for it.


(Note; I know this video has now been deleted from Youtube; read why at the bottom of this story, meanwhile here's some more info, and here on Levant's hate filled rant that almost landed him and SUN TV in court)

But back to our rant already in progress.

How you ask, will I have to pay for this drivel? Well SUN TV has an application in front of the CRTC demanding to be put on basic cable. That means that everybody who has cable would be forced to subsidize SUN TV even if you have no desire to ever watch it. Even if you actively despise everything they stand for. Even if you are one of the groups that are routinely attacked as part of SUN TV's ever growing gallery of Strawmen who are intent on destroying capitalism and the family. You know who you are; Muslims, Natives, Gays, Unions, Roma, Artists, Environmentalists, Pacifists, Separatists, Liberals, The NDP, The CBC, University Students and...oh Fuck it... pretty much anyone who doesn't live in Alberta. They may hate you but you have to not only tolerate their right to take to the airwaves to trash you, but you must also actually subsidize them as well. That's the whole point of this exercise.

Do the same Conservatives who have also railed against the same strawmen have any problems with this. Actually at least one does. Take it away, Andrew Coyne from National Post;

A few choice quotes;
"There just aren’t words for this kind of gall. Even by the standards of the cultural sector, it’s breathtaking: proof, yet again, that the only thing you need to succeed in Canadian business is utter shamelessness, coupled with an invincible sense of entitlement to the public’s money. Leave aside its general positioning of itself as the voice for conservative, free-market types, or its constant lectures to others on the need for self-reliance. This is the network that, when it is not talking about itself (sole opposition to the “non-Sun media”) is more or less obsessed with the CBC and its “billion-dollar subsidy.” All forgotten, apparently."

"Well, asking is not quite the word. The network, never shy about self-promotion, seems almost an infomercial for itself these days. Network personalities have been drafted to explain the urgent public necessity of making Sun mandatory carriage, that is of taxing everyone with cable or satellite service. Viewers are directed to a website, where they can send an email to the CRTC in support of its application."

Turns out that when SUN TV applied for it's original license two years ago SUN TV vice pres Kory Teneycke sanctimoniously denied they would never, ever, ever even consider asking for basic carriage coverage.

"Sun, he wrote, “is not, nor has it ever, asked for ‘mandatory carriage’ by cable or satellite companies.” Why, the very idea: “this would be tantamount to a tax on everyone with cable or satellite service.”


Yeah well, that was then. Back when they were positive that there was a vast untapped vein of true conservatives just starving for a steady diet of right wing bloviating. Or not. Turns out that SUN TV's ratings were sometime less than 10,000 for the whole country, and that was while they still had the over-the-air signal.

So, remind me again. In a capitalist system what does a corporation do when they do a massive belly-flop like this. Why, they get the taxpayers to bail them out of course. Duh.

Besides it's not like there aren't plenty of other examples of SUN TV hypocrisy are there? Like, say pushing the withdrawing the public partial subsidizing of political parties, because in a free society taxpayers shouldn't be forced to pay for ideas and speech they don't like. Or how about attacking the longstanding union dues structure whereby every member of a union pays dues to that union because you know; Freedom! But when it comes to bailing out the Pravda wing of The Conservative Party? Cough it up you deadbeats.

So that brings us to you, the viewers. Or non-viewers if their ratings are to be believed. If you don't want to have to subsidize SUN TV you have one, and only one last chance to say something now or forever hold your peace. You, Yes You can write a letter to the CRTC and state your opposition. You could also ask to speak at the hearings, but they are going to be held in Gatineau, Quebec on April 23. It is still worth writing a letter though. I have testified at two different CRTC hearings and written support letters for four more, not counting this one. I have always found it to be an easy process and have always felt it was a worthwhile exercise. The CRTC actually does read these things and it does matter. SUN TV knows it too. Ever since they decided to go for the basic cable payday they have spent even more of their air time begging for their handfull of viewers to write support letters to the CRTC, many have. On the other hand many of those who have been the targets of their hateful rhetoric have also taken the time to write letters to the CRTC as well that are considerably less helpfull. Payback's a bitch. At last check there were several thousand submissions on the CRTC site. I haven't the time to read them all so I don't know how they breakdown as a pro vs against ratio but there are plenty of both. I also noticed that singer Holly McNarland fired off her two cents worth. She is not a fan of SUN TV BTW.


So get out your typing finger and go to the CRTC site

Then scroll down a few entries to the part that says;

"23 April 2013 Gatineau, Quebec Applications for mandatory distribution on cable and satellite distribution systems pursuant to section 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act and applications for the licence renewal of independent conventional, pay and specialty television services Deadline for submission of interventions/comments/answers: 20 February 2013
2013-19-1 - 23 April 2013 Correction to the preamble and item 21 Extension of deadline for interventions/comments/answers: 27 February 2013 Extension of deadline for replies: 11 March 2013"

In the second column you will find a heading that says;
"Extension of deadlines 27 February 2013"

And a button that says "Submit". Click on that and follow the instructions. It's just that simple. If some mouth-breathing Red Neck Goober can figure it out so can you. Now go and come up with something pithy. The deadline is February 27. The second deadline of March 11 is for SUN TV to respond in the rather unlikely event that they actually do.

Incidentally just as further incentive here's that list of taxpayer gifts you have already lavished on SUN TV and their parent company QMI;

"Granted to magazine publishers under the Canadian Periodical Fund.

A list of Quebecor properties and the commensurate amount they received from taxpayers for 2010-11, via the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Chez Soi: $487, 735
Cool: $191.136
7 Jours: $327,160
TV Hebdo: $1,157,100
TV Hebdo Teleromans: $8,480
Les idees de ma maison: $376,943
Clin d’oeil: $480,749
Cote Jardins: $33,678
Derniere Heure: $154,966
Echoes Vedettes: $188,704
Le Lundi: $376,018
Moi & Cie: $7,947
Tout simplement Clodine: $99,489
Clodine Hors serie: $4,366

TOTAL $3.7 million."

And keep in mind that's in JUST ONE YEAR!!


UPDATE: Here is the letter I wrote to the CRTC using their website;

"As a long time journalist and Community Radio programmer I am writing in opposition to the application by SUN News for mandatory distribution on cable and satellite distribution systems.

I will not belabor for the Commission the obvious hypocrisy of SUN News' longstanding vocal opposition to extending this very same mandatory distribution to every other Network on the supposed principal that nobody should have to pay for a service they did not use. Or the hypocrisy of SUN News' equally strident opposition of Arts grants, taxpayer subsidies of political parties and compulsory union dues for the same reason. Clearly that was before SUN News utterly failed to reach an audience with their "service" and there are larger issues with this application than the applicant's brazen shamelessness.

My Opposition will focus on five main points;

1. SUN News was granted a license on the promise that they would never ask for Mandatory Distribution.; In 2011 SUN News Vice President wrote in his own newspapers stating that; SUN TV “is not, nor has it ever, asked for ‘mandatory carriage’ by cable or satellite companies.” and “this would be tantamount to a tax on everyone with cable or satellite service.” All they were asking for was that carriers be obliged to make Sun available to those who wanted to order it. Any suggestion that SUN TV would be seeking Mandatory were “lies, half-truths and slander” . Having been granted it's license on the promise of not demanding Mandatory Carriage, SUN News should not now be allowed to sneak such an application through the back door.

2. Lack of interest for programming; Since going on air SUN TV has received consistently dismal ratings. This is in spite of several high profile advertising campaigns and the ability to cross-promote with the national Sun Newspaper chain as well as several talk radio shows hosted by SUN TV hosts. If SUN TV has not been able to generate an audience with all these advantages and resources then it should not be the responsibility of either the Commission or cable subscribers to bail them out.

3. SUN TV does not provide special interest programming; Although SUN TV has described it's programming a "special interest", SUN TV does not qualify as a specialty channel as the term is generally used. Specialty Programming has traditionally been considered as programming that speaks to and comes from small and marginalized communities with little or no access to mainstream media outlets. Past examples have included Campus Based Community Radio, Aboriginal Communities, French language communities outside Quebec, foreign language communities and small isolated rural communities. Another different category has been cable channels dedicated to specific subjects not covered in the mainstream media but of sufficient cultural or educational importance such as Weather Channels, Religious Channels, Children's Programming, Music, Sports, Cooking, Learning etc. I support this tradition, however by no stretch of the imagination can SUN TV be considered in a similar category. SUN TV is a corporate network which considerable resources, they should not need further support. The fact that SUN TV's ratings have actually been lower than most niche specialty channels should not be incentivized.

4. The CRTC does not grant licenses to political parties and unions; While SUN TV bills itself as a "News Network" any perusal of it's programming makes it abundantly clear that SUN News is in fact the propaganda wing of the Conservative Party(s). While in certain European, Latin American and African countries political parties often own their own radio and television stations, this has never been the case in Canada. Nor has the CRTC licensed labour unions. This standard should be adhered to, the experience of nations that have highly politicized airwaves such as The United States, Russia, Italy and Venezuela does not lead to confidence that democracy has been strengthened, that the level of public discourse has improved or that the public has become better educated. In fact the evidence of the examples above shows the opposite is true.

5. SUN News has built up a record of offensive comments and generated a number of complaints far in excess of any "News" station of comparable size. Since beginning it's broadcasting SUN TV has provoked an unprecedented number of complaints from viewers to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council. These complaints have covered such matters as repeated airing of openly racist and Homophobic attacks on Native People, Roma, Muslims, Unions and Gays that would not be aired on other channels. The response to these complaints by SUN TV has been defiant. No person has been dismissed or disciplined as a result of these complaints nor has there been any noticeable change in the hateful tone of the programming, nor is there likely to be. In fact in 2001 the various Sun newspapers withdrew from the various Press Councils in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba calling them "politically correct". The attitude of SUN TV has been equally hostile to any oversight. On July 13, 2004 the CRTC rescinded the license of radio station CHOI-FM in Quebec for repeated broadcasting of offensive content. I am not asking for SUN TV to be taken off the air, however members of the public should not be forced to subsidize programming that is brazenly insulting and offensive to many communities and individuals in Canada.

SUN TV's inability to find an audience is a failure by the applicant to offer a product that a sizable number of Canadians wish to see. It is not a failure of the CRTC to support them. SUN TV should not be incentivized to fail. To do so would set an unwelcome precedent. I ask that this application be rejected. Yours Truly; Yada Yada Yada"

Note; I realize my letter is a little long, but don't let that faze you, most public letters are just one paragraph. I was kind of on a roll. That deadline again is Feb.27 so get to work.


UPDATE; As of the end of March the video of Erzra Levant's jaw-droppingly racist rant against the Gypsie/Roma people has been removed by Youtube due to a bullshit "Copyright" complaint, as have all other attempts by mere citizens to point out how disgustingly racist/homophobic/anti-native/anti-Muslim SUN TV is. This has become a favorite tactic of the sleazy right. Namely shutting down any on-line critique they don't like by filing a bogus "copyright" complaint with Youtube, Facebook, Twitter or Google which they inevitably cave into immediately. These claims would almost certainly not stand up in court where "Fair Use" arguments would be brought due to the obvious newsworthiness and public interest involved. However this would require the person who posted the video (or photos or even quotes) to hire a lawyer and take them to court, which they know most people can't afford. This of course is coming from a media organization which is always screaming for "transparency" from it's enemies like The CBC, Unions, Native Reserves, and any politician they don't like, but anyone expecting any sort of moral consistency from these shameless douche-bags is sadly naive. It's a cowardly, devious, dishonest, bully-boy tactic but it works. You know who else loves this sort of tactic? The sanctimonious left wing activists over at The Ryerson Student Union, The Canadian Federation of Students, CKLN (good riddance) and the Socialist Party of Ontario, one of whose leaders (in fact a former leader of ALL those organizations), Andrew Lehrer, is a past master at this. He in fact did this to a posting on this very blog awhile back over a posting that wasn't even about him, then he sent me a post bragging about it. Corrupt sleazebags are all the same regardless of the ideology they espouse. More on the SUN TV censorship campaign here.

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