24 Hour Conservative News Comes to Canada

Moving from the U.S. to Canada was a bit of a news media shock to say the least. Coming from a place where 24 hour news began in earnest back in the early 90’s with CNN and is now dominated by the likes of FoxNEWS and MSNBC, watching Canadian national news feels more like watching a local affiliate broadcast in a bottom 100 Nielsen DMA. But that is about to change and apparently not for the better.

Conservative Sun Media Corporation, publisher of the Le Journal de Quebec as well as the Sun Newspapers (Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg) has taken a page from Rupert Murdock’s playbook and is launching a FoxNEWS styled 24 hour news channel here in Canada called Sun News Network.

Quebecor Media Inc. has announced that its 24-hour news network will hit the airwaves on April 18.

Sun News Network has been dubbed by critics as Fox News North because of its expected right-wing slant.

It’s a joint venture between Sun Media Corporation and TVA Group, which are both subsidiaries of Quebecor Media.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper‘s former press secretary, Kory Teneycke, announced the venture last year. He left the company, but later rejoined it.

Calgary writer and lawyer Ezra Levant, a former press secretary to then-Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day, will be among the cast of commentators.

Tens of thousands of people signed petitions to keep Sun News Network off the air, including novelist Margaret Atwood.

Here is the programming description from Wikipedia:

Sun News’ schedule will be modeled after Quebecor’s French language news channel, Le Canal Nouvelles, featuring news reportage during the daytime hours (approximately 6AM to 5PM) and analysis and commentary programmes at night. The network will have a general on-air attitude that its founding executives claim will be lively, “unapologetically patriotic,” and “less politically correct” in comparison to the established CTV News Channel and CBC News Network as well as Toronto-based CP24. No specific programming for Sun News has been revealed outside of a September 2010 announcement that longtime radio personality Charles Adler will host a primetime discussion programme.

Sun News will also take a populist, conservative-leaning approach that will mirror the namesake Sun chain of Quebecor-owned tabloid newspapers; that, and its employment of conservative commentators and operatives (including the two men who have headed the project since its inception, first Kory Teneycke and later Luc Lavoie), have led media reports, pundits, and critics to bill the network as “Fox News North.” Sun News management has openly bristled at the comparisons, saying that they only intend Sun News to mimic the Sun chain’s “irreverent” and “provocative” approach and offer a “range of [political] opinion.”Indeed, Sun News will rely in part on newsgathering resources from the Sun chain and other Quebecor-owned newspapers; it will also rely on an international content agreement with CNN.

My only hope is that upon launching this network that more liberal leaning forces recognize that the nightly-news model followed by CTV and CBC are not sufficient in today’s day and age of the 15 minute news cycle and some changes are made to beef up their offerings. At present, I take comfort in the fact that I am able to pull down all three major U.S. cable news networks (Fox, MSNBC and CNN) on my satellite but that does not make me a more informed Canadian resident, only a more connect expat.

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