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The CRTC Throws Sun News Network’s Future Into Doubt

The CRTC has denied the controversial all-news channel's bid for mandatory distribution.

Sun News Network’s website, as it appeared earlier today.

The Sun News Network’s future is in jeopardy this morning after the CRTC denied the right-leaning all-news channel’s application for guaranteed subscription revenue and a spot on basic cable and satellite TV.

The channel was seeking coveted “mandatory distrubtion” status, which, if granted as envisioned, would have given it a prime spot on every Canadian cable or satellite dial, plus a government-mandated revenue stream. Sun was asking the CRTC to impose, on carriers, a non-negotiable monthly fee of 18 cents per English-language subscriber, plus nine cents per month from French-speaking households.

Sun News executives have said that the financially troubled channel would be forced to shut down without a favourable CRTC decision (which this one most certainly isn’t). The Sun News Network lost an estimated $17 million in 2012. The channel’s overseers have blamed its abysmal market performance, in part, on the fact that it was only carried in four out of ten households as of 2012.

Sun’s pleas for government help do seem to have melted some hearts within the bureaucracy, though. At the same time it announced that it would be denying Sun’s application, the CRTC launched a public review of some new proposed policies for licensing Canadian national news television services in a more equitable way. This is apparently in deference to Sun’s argument that, without mandatory distribution, it can’t compete with major established players like CBC News Network and CTV News Channel, both of which benefited from mandatory status at various times. The review will also address Sun’s complaint that its placement in on-screen channel guides is often unfavourable.

(On the other hand, is it really so unfair for a news organization like Sun News Network, which spends its time attacking what it sees as big-government elitism and privilege, to be denied a big-government elite privilege?)

The CRTC did grant and renew some other mandatory-distribution applications today, all of them for smaller stations that serve French-language markets and niche interests. More details are in the press release.


  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Thank fuck.

  • ephena

    I guess the whole “attack government assistance as a social evil with one hand, while asking for government assistance with the other” thing didn’t work out so well.

  • Steve Munro

    Getting mandatory carriage would simply make their license more valuable for resale to one of the bigger conglomerates. If Sun News can’t get an audience for its drivel, they deserve to go bankrupt. Isn’t that the private enterprise way?

    • Matt Patterson

      That’s apparently what many at the Sun think should happen to Bixi, so I can only assume that they must be applauding this CRTC decision: “We’re about to go bankrupt and loose our jobs! The market works!”

  • OgtheDim

    I’ll say it again.

    Who has cable?

    They could have done very well, with about the same resources, if they went as an online news network.

    • Testu

      Oddly enough, when they first started Sun News it was broadcast as an HD OTA channel, in place of the Sun TV channel. Somehow they couldn’t manage to pull any viewers even as a free broadcast channel that everyone could get.

      I have a feeling their target demographic may not be the most technology/internet savvy, going online only would probably lose them the few viewers they have.

    • vampchick21

      I have cable. I’m not that old yet. :(

  • Graeme

    The CRTC made the right decision? Huh, no wonder the ground feels so cold today…

  • glenn_storey

    excellent. i’m looking forward to the day when ezra levant has to apply for pogey.