So now I’ve watched a full daily cycle of programming on the new Sun News Network and can give my, more informed, first impressions. I don’t have to tell regular readers that I tend to be biased to the conservative side of things, though not necessarily on the side of the Conservative Party of Canada, which I have criticized from time to time.
My overall impression is a tepid, “Well done!” No first-day gaffes that I noticed, and production values seem first rate. Generally speaking, the programs are hosted by intelligent, attractive professionals who really seem enthusiastic about their jobs.
I have been most impressed with the night-time Byline, which is hosted by Brian Lilley. Next favourite is the Charles Adler show. The other night-time shows are fair to good. But all need to up their game if they are to compete successfully with regular network entertainment shows.
I saw Michael Coren as a guest talking about his new book Why Catholics Are Right (McClelland & Stewart)—a strong performance, by the way. I gather Coren will be on multiple nights a week. Haven’t seen Warren Kinsella or heard which program he’ll be on.
The daytime line up is very different from the CTV News channel with its boring, repetitive news cycle whereby the same news is repeated every 20 minutes with only ads to break the tedium. CBC—biases aside—does a decent job in the daytime and will be Sun News’ main Canadian competitor, I’d think. Theo Caldwell did a pretty decent job with his The Caldwell Account, though he can be a bit preachy at times.
So far, no Sun News personality seems to be proving she/he has the “it factor” or star quality I’ve seen at, say, Fox News or MSNBC. Hopefully, some will emerge in the near future as they warm up to their jobs. I’d say dropping Mercedes Stephenson was a major mistake—assuming the network had a choice in that decision. I’ve seen her elsewhere on television and she’s excellent—as good as anyone currently on Sun News, and better than some.
I also hoped for a nightly current affairs discussion show à la “The Michael Coren Show” on CTS or CBC’s “At Issue” with Andrew Coyne, Allan Gregg and Chantal Hébert. I like the idea of three or four intelligent people discussing the important issues of the day. I’d also like a better alternative to the 5:00 p.m. politics-shows offered by CBC and CTV. But, please, not just political party hacks spinning the party line like we see on those two networks.
The Sun News is worth watching, but will not be my first choice for prime-time entertainment—I’m more likely to tune in during the day.