This morning at 5 a.m., Canada lost an important source of conservative commentary on TV, and 200 folks lost their jobs. I’m referring, of course, to the demise of Sun News Network.
The end took me by surprise, though, I did wonder at the time when I heard the TV network was not part of the purchase of the Sun newspapers by rival Post Media. Sun News seemed to benefit from its corporate relationship with Sun newspapers, and I wondered if the TV operation could carry on as an independent entity without them.
Apparently, they could not.
The failure of the right-of-centre network is, I believe, another example of the fallacy of the notion: if it works in the United States, it will work in Canada. Target learned this recently as Canadian Tire did in the 1980s and Loblaws did decades earlier.
Fox News has been a resounding success south of the border, so the idea seemed to be to replicate its format in Canada and, Presto!, success would be assured. Critics even called the fledgling news operation “Fox News north.”
Personally, while I eagerly anticipated Sun News Network when it was first announced, I was disappointed with the on-air product from the day it was launched.
David Akin’s Battleground in the early evening was watchable, especially during election campaigns, and I often tuned in to Michael Coren’s The Arena at 8:00 p.m., though, somewhat less so recently. The other evening shows were watchable only on a semi-regular basis and generally were marred by too much preaching at the audience, not enough variety of views expressed and a lack of respect for any contrary view.
Yes, Warren Kinsella was a regular on the network and he seemed pretty much to be given free rein to argue the other view. And there were others beside Kinsella, of course, but it always seemed clear the “other view” was there to be thumped and kicked to the ground. Remember that appalling interview between host Krista Erickson and Quebec-based dancer Margie Gillis back in 2011?
Moreover, show formats were too similar, there was far too much replaying of shows in place of new programming, and there was too much duplication of subject matter among the evening shows.
Recently, the network began showing documentaries, but I found the production values of some to be little better than that of cable community channels—though, the subject matter was often interesting.
So, as far as I’m concerned, the attempt at providing a conservative voice in Canada was, at best, a limited success. But I do give the organization full marks for trying. Canadians need more opportunity to hear conservative views and ideas and it’s a pity Sun’s voices—on air at least—have been silenced.
For those progressives out there who tried your best to demonize the network because it did not champion your views, I ask that you temper your celebration at its demise, and give a thought for those unfortunate 200 staff members who worked very hard for four years and now are without jobs.
Let’s hope some other organization will have the courage—and the financial resources—to take on the challenge of fighting the good fight for conservative principles and values on TV.
Later today, I’ll raise a glass to all Sun News Network’s staff members and wish them all a soft landing and prosperous new careers.