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Tuesday, June 22, 2010 

The Issue With Sun TV - by Brian Topp

"The issue with Sun TV is not that it wants to add yet another boring, frothing, word-for-word predictable right-wing voice to the choir of identical voices singing in harmony in English Canada's media. Although the idea that we have a shortage of such voices is laughable.

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."

Brian Topp
June 21, 2010
Globe & Mail

Progressive Bloggers

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.

Great questions, all. I have no problem with M. Péladeau pissing away HIS money on this little propaganda venture. Mind you, (correct me on this if I’m wrong) Quebecor’s financial backers are for the most part, pension funds of labour unions in Québec (can we say “not bright?”). Perhaps they (the union memberships) should start looking at what their funds are doing. The people managing the funds obviously aren’t and I’m not saying that from an ideological perspective - Quebecor has done nothing but bleed money the last ten years. Again, correct me if I’m wrong but here’s the last four years:

Beauty, eh?

Assuming a license is granted, it should be a subscribe only service and if CBC newsworld has to be sacrificed to the same standard let it be so. 24 hour news channels are a blight on the information landscape. One has to only look at the toxic crud that emanates as “news” on the American 24 hour news channels and I’m not even referencing “FAUX” at this point because I don’t consider them as anything other than a propaganda outlet for the extremely wealthy corporate theocracy that America has devolved into.

Yes but all of this is just pointing to that terrible trend in late capitalism; the radical and frightening increase in the power of the large corporation. All the right wing has ever wanted to do is take power out of the hands of accountable organizations and put it in the hands of unaccountable corporations. The formula is simple, the results are devastating, and the people are predictably ignorant of the whole affair.

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