The Issue With Sun TV - by Brian Topp
Nor is it a problem, particularly, that this enterprise is run by a repurposed staffer from Mr. Harper's PMO. Those of us who have laboured in leaders' offices are united in wishing our sisters- and brothers-in-arms well in their job hunts.
The issue with Sun TV is that it is being financed by a regulated cable television monopoly.
It seems highly unlikely that Pierre Karl Péladeau is funding this network via his printing business, his television network or his tabloids – all mostly on life support. Arguably, "net net," every dollar of the $100-million Mr. Péladeau wants to spend on this propaganda exercise is a dollar that was overcharged to his Videotron cable subscribers.
Concurrently, Canada's regulated cable monopolies are doing Prime Minister Stephen Harper's political work, building television and print empires that share the Prime Minister's political DNA. It illustrates another familiar pattern – how insiders and "public rentiers" work together and serve each other.
It's a familiar story, similar to the abuses associated with privately-owned power companies – almost all of whom were replaced by publicly owned utilities in Canada over the course of the last century for identical reasons.
So what is to be done?
Denying Sun TV a licence would only be a good start.
What is required is a period of energetic trust-busting.
The cable monopolies need to be pruned back to their core mandates. Cable and Internet rates clearly can be cut – to a level sufficient to finance the operation and growth of the cable network, not empire-building.
Perhaps the mandate to provide cable service in specific territories should be put up to regular public tender, complete with a form of term limit.
The reward for consumers will be much cheaper cable and Internet service, at a time when access to that network has become an economic fundamental.
As for Sun TV, if it wants to crusade for the unregulated lusts of the rich, perhaps it should start by practising its own religion itself. What is happening here is everything Mr. Harper and his retinue once claimed to oppose. And now wallow in."
June 21, 2010
Globe & Mail
Brian Topp is executive director of ACTRA Toronto. He also serves as chair of the board of Creative Arts Savings and Credit Union, and is a member of the board of directors of ROI Fund, a venture capital fund. He previously served as a senior vice-president at Credit Union Central of Canada, the national office of Canada's credit union system outside of Quebec. He served as deputy chief of staff to Saskatchewan premier Roy Romanow. He co-ordinated the federal NDP's campaign war room during the 1997 and 2004 federal elections, and served as that party's national campaign director during the 2006 and 2008 elections.