There are few certainties in life, but one is the Sun also rises.
High-minded Canadians, like Margaret Atwood, ought to remember this as they sign petitions to block Sun TV.
Quebecor Inc.‘s new television station is designed to shake up Canada’s stodgy broadcast news industry. It’s being likened to Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, whose hosts have been known to boil frogs on air and, with surprising regularity, earnestly predict the coming of Satan.
This is, apparently, something to fear.
Time will tell.
But trying to block the venture is lunacy.
That’s censorship, plain and simple, and is never in a free society’s best interest.
Imagine the clamour if a major Canadian author’s latest work was under threat of suppression by petition?
We thought not.
Now, before you gabble justifications for the extinguishing of Sun TV, understand that we get the situation.
Because of CP’s solid journalism, we know Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his former spokesman Kory Teneycke dined with Murdoch and Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, last year.
We know that sometime later, Quebecor’s Pierre Karl Peladeau tasked Teneycke to launch a right-wing television network dubbed Sun TV.
We know Stephen Harper is freakishly controlling about his media image.
We know Teneycke’s Sun TV applied to the CRTC for a Category 1 licence, that would have allowed it to elbow itself onto every basic cable and satellite broadcast in the country, and would have guaranteed millions in revenue.
And we know that on July 5, Peter Foster, the CRTC’s director general of policy and applications, turned down that request. The decision was in line with the regulator’s decision in March not to award any new Category 1 licences until at least October 2011.
We know that CRTC vice-chair Michel Arpin’s term expires at the end of the month, and that it won’t be renewed.
We know Arpin has not yet been replaced, but Luc Lavoie is being floated as a possibility. He’s a longtime friend and associate of Quebecor’s Peladeau.
We know Konrad von Finckenstein, chair of the CRTC, has an appointment to the CRTC until 2012.
And we know Harper’s government has replaced several board and commission heads who have issued rulings contrary to its will, such as Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission president Linda Keen, veterans’ ombudsman Pat Storgan, Paul Kennedy, the chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, Marty Cheliak, acting director general of the Canadian Firearms Program … we could go on.
All this hints at much, and means almost nothing.
The CRTC denied the Category 1 licence. Beyond that, nothing has changed.
The government should respect the regulator’s decision.
Should Sun TV finagle a Category 1 licence before January – a big if – then the nation’s media should find out why. And it will.
Even if Harper is responsible, Canadians shouldn’t be shocked.
Harper would not be the first prime minister in history to pull the levers of power to get something he wants done. He won’t be the last. It’s how power works.
What would be astounding, should it happen, is the lack of finesse.
You could argue the Conservative government’s bull-in-the-China-shop approach is transparent government.
But nobody should fear Sun TV.
It is the public face of views and opinions now shared on bulletin boards and e-mail lists on a daily basis – far away from the wider public’s scrutiny.
It is far better to have them in the open.
Sunlight is, after all, the best antiseptic.
Sun TV will air in January.
If you respect Canadian society, you have to believe they will judge the new network on its merits.
Besides, as surely as the sun rises, it also eventually sets. (Richard Mostyn)