Quotulatiousness

January 24, 2013

Sun TV’s about-face on “making us all pay for it”

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Government, Media — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:12

Andrew Coyne makes some good points about Sun TV’s hypocrisy, he could have made a stronger case for getting the CRTC entirely out of the business of deciding what Canadians can watch on TV:

When the Sun News Network first loomed on the national horizon two years ago, before it had even begun broadcasting, sections of the Canadian left reacted as they do to most things: with hysterics.

A petition was launched — from the United States, as it happens — demanding the CRTC deny Sun the licence it sought, claiming “Prime Minister Harper is trying to push American-style hate media onto our airwaves, and make us all pay for it.”

[. . .]

Well, that was then: much has happened since. Teneycke lost his job, briefly, after questions were raised about how the bogus signatures found their way onto the petition. The network has mostly avoided peddling hate, unless you count that business about the Roma. And, less than two years since its launch, Sun is back before the CRTC, asking to be put on basic cable.

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.

[. . .]

But if fairness is what we’re after, there’s another way to go about it. Rather than give every channel an equal chance to stick their hands in the public’s pockets — to force viewers to pay for channels they would not pay for willingly — it is to grant that privilege to no one: to leave viewers free to decide whether or not to subscribe to each channel, on its own merits. And yes, in case anyone’s wondering, that includes the CBC. (Notwithstanding the princely $500 a pop the corporation pays me to bloviate on At Issue, I have been rash enough to argue, publicly and often, for defunding the CBC.)

For goodness sake, it is 2013. The circumstances that might once have justified such regulatory micro-managing, in the days when there were only three channels and barely room for more on the dial, are long gone. Then, a new or special-interest channel might have made the case for market failure: since it was impossible for viewers to pay for channels directly, there was a built-in bias to the biggest audience, and the programming that tailored to it.

6 Comments

  1. Coyne is wrong, SNN wants the same treatment as other Canadian news networks. I don’t think that qualifies as subsidies from the government by any example. Our cable and sat system or regulations sucks really. The monopoly by the companies involved mean we don’t have choices to pay for some channels. I know that I would not pay for CBC Newsworld if I didn’t have it come out of my basic cable costs. Same with the CTV version, same for CNN, BN, CP24, etc. In fact, I wouldn’t pay for SNN either really as I only want HD channels on my TV now, and they are an SD feed.

    Comment by Dwayne — January 24, 2013 @ 10:10

  2. Coyne is wrong, SNN wants the same treatment as other Canadian news networks.

    I don’t think he’s wrong to call out hypocritical behaviour when he sees it, and Sun TV is definitely being hypocritical over this. That said, I think they should have been given the same license terms as the other existing Canadian news channels if we have to have the CRTC involved at all.

    I really don’t have a dog in this fight, as I think I’ve watched Sun TV less than half a dozen times since it launched.

    Comment by Nicholas — January 24, 2013 @ 10:19

  3. Oh, and Canadian TV channels should not be allowed to legally pirate US TV feeds either:

    Comment by Nicholas — January 24, 2013 @ 11:43

  4. Hypocritical in what way? Asking for the same treatment as your competition seems like a reasonable request. It isn’t as if they are asking the Federal Government to fund their operation. Calling out the CBC for it’s misuse of taxpayer money does not make SNN hypocritical in asking for fair treatment. The CRTC sets out the rules on what is manditory carriage, you have to wonder what the criteria is if a Canadian company is having trouble getting a similar ruling to other companies, both private and public.

    Not sure about the 3rd post, I must have missed something in the Coyne article. Rebroadcasting someone elses transmission is a crime, isn’t it? Copywrite notice and all.

    Comment by Dwayne — January 24, 2013 @ 13:21

  5. Hypocritical in what way? Asking for the same treatment as your competition seems like a reasonable request.

    When they originally applied for a license, they made a big deal about not asking for mandatory carriage, as it was an unfair tax on the viewer. Now, they’ve decided to go for mandatory carriage and have completely forgotten all their rhetoric from just two years back.

    Not sure about the 3rd post, I must have missed something in the Coyne article. Rebroadcasting someone elses transmission is a crime, isn’t it? Copywrite notice and all.

    Canadian TV networks use US feeds for the program, but cut in Canadian commercials (for which they charge the advertisers money). None of that money gets back to the originating network. It’s legal, but not right.

    Comment by Nicholas — January 24, 2013 @ 13:52

  6. Although the Grope and Flail is biased, they reported that the SNN application was a Catagory 1 request, and that was denied.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/crtc-refuses-sun-tvs-bid-for-preferred-status-on-dial/article1641654/

    The claim that they origianlly did not ask for manditory carriage is wrong. I would say that it is likely after they were denied, they amped up the retoric, since they lost they had to save face somehow.

    That said, it contridicts the argument that they are hypocrites as the original request was definetly for mandatory carriage.

    Paywalled but the headline says it all

    http://www.thewirereport.ca/news/2010/06/15/quebecor-asks-crtc-for-limited-three-year-must-carry-licence-for-sun-tv-news-offers-to-give/20932
    http://www.thewirereport.ca/news/2010/09/01/quebecor-not-giving-up-on-application-for-must-carry-sun-tv-news/21212

    As for the other point, I see what you mean. I am sure that the US feeds are paid for, and how a broadcaster makes money on ads is up to the network and the broadcaster to work out. They must know the Canadian companies insert their own commercials.

    Comment by Dwayne — January 24, 2013 @ 18:17

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