Worried about Fox News North? You shouldn’t be

In a column for the Globe and Mail,
Jeffrey Simpson writes about the so-called “liberal media tilt”, Sun
TV’s quest for favoured cable placement and why it doesn’t matter.

Simpson writes:

“It’s an article of unshakable conviction among the hardest core conservatives that the “media” tilt liberal or leftward.

“The argument is bunk on its face. If you totted up all the clearly right-wing outlets and commentators and put them against the leftish-wing ones such as the Toronto Star, the right-wing voices would win every time – from AM Radio, to Maclean’s, to the National Post, to most of the former CanWest papers, to editorial elements of The Globe and Mail and, most notably, to the Sun newspapers.”

It’s been widely reported that Sun TV is seeking a “mandatory offer” licence, so that cable companies must include Sun TV into one of the bundles they offer subscribers. Simpson writes:

“People in high dudgeon about its arrival should calm down. Sun TV won’t be watched by many people, if the audiences for the other all-news channels are any guide. Most of those who watch will be committed right-wingers looking, like most consumers of news and information, to have previously held opinions reaffirmed.”

He writes that the most favoured cable license is “basic”, followed by the Category 1 that Sun TV is seeking. CBC News Network is on basic cable, and earns more than 80% of its revenue from cable subscribers, while CTV News Channel is Category 1 and gets 64% of revenue from subscribers.

“Both of these networks will lose their gold mines next year when the CRTC eliminates these preferences. But Sun TV brazenly wants Category 1 status for itself, at the very moment that competitors will lose theirs.

“Put another way, the CRTC is telling the existing all-news networks: Compete to get cable operators to present your fare. The Sun TV folks are saying: Let them compete, but we’ll take Category 1 status.

“The CRTC would lose every shred of credibility to accept Sun TV’s application. It has to say – and Sun TV will likely hate the word – go “compete.” Meaning, try to negotiate something with your “friendly” cable giants such as Shaw, Rogers and Bell.”