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Fox News North?
September 9, 2010 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Ricken Patel, of Avaaz vs. Kory Teneycke, VP Development of Montreal-based Quebecor Media (15-second commercial before TV-debate). Quebecor's lawyer's are now threatening to sue Avaaz if they do not withdraw their online petition to keep Sun Media (owned by Quebecor) from getting a "must-carry" license for a proposed news channel being referred to as "Fox News North".

Avaaz (previously), an international online activist group, is among a host of voices that allege that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been trying to use his position and influence to push the Canadian television regulator (the CRTC) to grant a "Category 1" license to Quebecor for a new news channel. That would mean all Canadian broadcasters must carry the channel, and that the channel would receive government funding. This channel is expected to have a conservative stance and similar tone to that of Fox News - in March 2009, Harper and his then-Director of Communication Kory Teneycke had a private lunch with Roger Ailes, president of Fox News, and Rupert Murdoch, CEO and founder of News Corp., owner of Fox News. Shortly afterwards, Teneycke left his job to head Sun Media's political coverage. Quebecor has been denied the license.

Rumours are now flying that Harper is trying to install a more friendly leadership in the CRTC in order to get the Category 1. The current Vice-Chair will not be offered contract-renewal, and it is reported that Harper is trying to get the current CRTC Chair, Konrad von Finckenstein, to leave his job by offering him plush jobs. In places like Chile. In the meantime, Quebecor are seeking a Category 2 license.

Upset over the perceived manipulation, Canadian Avaaz members then launched the online petition, applauding the Category 1 rejection, and asking Harper to stop pressuring the CRTC on the matter. In 6 days, over 75,000 people have signed the petition, attracting Teneycke's attention.

Teneycke questioned the legitimacy of the online petition over his twitter account, saying "Source emailed me to say they registered Boba Fett, D. Shroot, etc. Petition lacks basic controls. Not sure who signed me up." But he later admitted that it was his source who added those names. However, the names of several real people, including journalists, were also falsely added to the petition at about the same time - activity which Avaaz is calling "criminal sabotage", and which they believe may have been the work of Teneycke. Quebecor's lawyers are now threatening to sue Avaaz if they do not remove the petition, but Avaaz has no such plans and is seeking to investigate the fraudulent signups.
posted by molecicco (41 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
*sob*
posted by klanawa at 4:06 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ignoring the Harper connection, this channel would be a terrible thing for Canada. Our all-news channels are delightfully bland -- the pompous blow-hard to actual news ratio is infinitesimal compared to the big 3 in the states.

But I guess even if this channel happens and the news networks start polarizing their coverage, at least the CBC should stay reasonably objective. One hopes.
posted by auto-correct at 4:10 PM on September 9, 2010


Fascinating topic, BTW. I hope Avaaz prevails over its bullies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:10 PM on September 9, 2010


[fixed the link, carry on]
posted by jessamyn at 4:17 PM on September 9, 2010


Thanks for sharing this - first I'd heard of it. Sadly, this kind of action on behalf of Harper is not unexpected...
posted by Arandia at 4:20 PM on September 9, 2010


Reddit's /r/Canada has a number of links and good discussions about all this.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:27 PM on September 9, 2010


> I think they’re wrong. It is for a whole diversity of voices and the public is free to make up their own minds what they read and what they watch on TV."

Any time you hear anyone associated with Harper in any way, shape or form use the word "diversity" you know you're being sold a big, heaping pile of Grade-A Canadian bullshit.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:28 PM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


Von Finckenstein has stated he and the department have not been pressured by Harper at all.

Which is, frankly, quite surprising. Implausible, even, but we should probably accept his word.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:30 PM on September 9, 2010


Oh, yes, I forgot my traditional response to hearing mention of our current PM's name: Fuck you, Stephen Harper.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:34 PM on September 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


Yes, giving then a category 2 license is pretty straightforward as much as I think the public needs this like they need a 24-hour hole-inn-the-head channel. But this whole category 1 license thing is pure bullshit then even the "corrupt" Liberals would never even have dreamt of. But relegate them way down the dial with MuchVibe and such.
posted by GuyZero at 4:36 PM on September 9, 2010


At least the CBC should stay reasonably objective. One hopes.

One hopes. However, what happened here is that FOX reports something crazy and the rest of the media feels the need to respond to it in some way, so FOX gets to drive the news cycle. FOX also does their best to undermine the credibility of other outlets. You can imagine what they'll have to say about the government funded CBC.

FOX is like media cancer. Once it takes hold all is lost.
posted by chrchr at 4:37 PM on September 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Reasons why the CRTC shouldn't exist, number 8953289...
posted by ripley_ at 4:38 PM on September 9, 2010


Time to resurrect five fresh fish's linked article from the census thread. The long game continues.
posted by anthill at 4:43 PM on September 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


It all fits extremely well into Harper's long term objective of moving the center to the right, which the Liberals have undeniably helped him with. A national propaganda machine would be just the trick to nudge the Tories into majority support. To Finckenstein's credit, he has so far refused to budge from his spot - and he's been instrumental in reestablishing the CRTC as a genuinely useful regulatory body, as opposed to one totally controlled by a telecommunications oligarchy.
posted by mek at 4:48 PM on September 9, 2010


So the evidence that the Prime Minister has been applying pressure is that ... he had lunch with someone?
posted by mcwetboy at 4:52 PM on September 9, 2010


Here's what five fresh fish is referring to, i.e. the letter to the Globe and Mail from Von Finckenstein, denying the rumoured interference (strangely this was published an entire three weeks after the rumours went public):

I read with consternation Lawrence Martin's column Is Stephen Harper Set To Move Against The CRTC? (Aug. 19) calling into question the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's independence as a regulatory body. The column stems from Quebecor Media's application to launch a TV news service called Sun TV News.

I would like to categorically state that no one at any level of government has approached me about the Sun TV application, the appointment of the CRTC's vice-chair of broadcasting, or my own mandate.

Quebecor's application is being treated according to the CRTC's well-established processes. The application was published on Sept. 1 for comment, and a public hearing will be held in Gatineau, Que., starting on Nov. 19. The CRTC will then make a decision on the basis of the evidence on the public record.

Konrad von Finckenstein, chair, CRTC, Gatineau, Que.

posted by Beardman at 4:53 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


One man stands in the way of this nightmare -- the Chairman of Canada's Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Konrad von Finckenstein.

Oh noes! The hero has the name of a (Bond-like) villain! And so close to "Comrade von Finkenstein"! Sorry, that was silly.

At least the CBC should stay reasonably objective. One hopes.

One hopes. However, what happened here is that FOX reports something crazy and the rest of the media feels the need to respond to it in some way, so FOX gets to drive the news cycle.


And furthermore, they get a lot of viewers, so other stations try to mimic some of the formatting and/or content, to win viewers (back).
posted by filthy light thief at 5:08 PM on September 9, 2010


Reasons why the CRTC shouldn't exist, number 8953289...

The CRTC has it's pros and cons but why do you think it shouldn't exist at all? Someone has to allocate spectrum, channels, etc.
posted by GuyZero at 5:08 PM on September 9, 2010


The CRTC has it's pros and cons but why do you think it shouldn't exist at all? Someone has to allocate spectrum, channels, etc.

True, I'm bad with the hyperbole. If I could edit that, I'd say that this is one of many areas that the CRTC simply shouldn't be involved in. It bothers me that any government agency can mandate provision of certain channels for all carriers.
posted by ripley_ at 5:17 PM on September 9, 2010


What five fresh fish said. And a fat raspberry to Michael Ignatieff for proving himself a thoroughly useless Leader Of The Opposition.

Jim Travers from The Toronto Star: "Liberals look on as Tories vandalise Canada"

(Ever notice that you never see Michael Ignatieff and John Kerry in the same room at the same time? I have a theory about that.)

posted by spoobnooble at 5:25 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


All of the cautions advanced above should be well heeded if Canada were to live with a Fox News North. I can't help but think that it would still be to the left of ABC, NBC, & CBS in the States.
posted by beelzbubba at 5:26 PM on September 9, 2010


This country needs a Fox News north like we need a cankerous, pus-weeping hole in our collective heads. Which is to say, not at all. Thank goodness the CRTC turned down their Category 1 application.

As for Category 2, I'd rather not see such a thing inflicted upon public discourse, but there's probably no good reason to deny a license for pay per view or something like that. Hopefully it will attract fewer viewers than that channel that shows the real estate listings, bombing spectacularly and taking Quebecor down with it.
posted by Kevin Street at 5:55 PM on September 9, 2010


The Canadian right wing, much like the GOP, have embraced the fringe, nuts 'n all, in order to get elected. The fringe seem to be like bedbugs; once you've laid down with them, they're hell to get rid of... but they vote, so ...

Ub both Canada and the US, the right seems to be far more effective in mobilizing their supporters, as opposed to the center/left where we seem to do little more than wring our hands and moan 'surely this...' at every new conservative outrage.

Hugely disappointed so far in Ignatieff, but maybe his summer bus tour has done some important groundwork.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:00 PM on September 9, 2010


Ub = In

It'z a new langwich I inventored.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:01 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cat2 isn't a problem. It's what they should get.

But they want a Cat2 with a never-before heard-of 3yr Cat1-ish amendment.

Also, their application makes it clear they are not offering news, but entertainment. Nonetheless, they want to present themselves as news.

It perplexes me that rightwing goons have managed to swindle so much power. WTF, rational people?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:11 PM on September 9, 2010


So Kory Teneycke is a person's name?
posted by biffa at 6:22 PM on September 9, 2010


I love that they wanted Rick Mercer to host a show on their channel. Because why wouldn't a gay Newfoundlander be sympathetic to the Conservative cause?

Maybe this is wishful thinking, but I honestly don't think that this kind of channel is going to fly here. Most people I know want unbiased news, not stuff that conforms to their world view. I mean, just look at the state of The National Post.

If it is a success, though, can they at least take Rex Murphy off our hands?
posted by Dismantled King at 6:23 PM on September 9, 2010


Seconding the Rex Murphy dislike. Maybe we could give him to Fox South and they'd all go away and stop bothering us.

ripley_: "It bothers me that any government agency can mandate provision of certain channels for all carriers."

Why? Do you think the Canadian broadcasting spectrum should be owned and operated by the media players with the most money? Because that's exactly what would happen. There's no way that Provincial or even Country-scale broadcasters can compete with big American (British, French...) media corporations.

Every online discussion I've seen on this issue contains several people who pop up and start slagging the CRTC. Why the hate? We're not talking about the Wheat Board here... Even that bastion of Free Market Goodness, the US, has the Federal Communications Commission. Which is like the CRTC, but with fewer COMMUNISTS.

Like the CRTC, the FCC "...is charged with regulating all non-federal government use of the radio spectrum (including radio and television broadcasting), and all interstate telecommunications (wire, satellite and cable) as well as all international communications that originate or terminate in the United States. It is an important factor in U.S. telecommunication policy. "

Somebody has to do this in your country, otherwise you won't have functioning radio, tv, cable and other communication systems.
posted by sneebler at 8:57 PM on September 9, 2010


It was Chris Selley (of the National Post) who so astutely noted that "Avaaz" is just "pirate for 'wassup'."

That's the only thing this story makes me think of anymore.
posted by bicyclefish at 9:42 PM on September 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


To Finckenstein's credit, he has so far refused to budge from his spot - and he's been instrumental in reestablishing the CRTC as a genuinely useful regulatory body, as opposed to one totally controlled by a telecommunications oligarchy.

Really? Have you heard of UBB?
posted by Chuckles at 11:11 PM on September 9, 2010


The pirates are running the ship, and we are in the brig. They have looted us and taken us prisoner.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:13 PM on September 9, 2010


I'm actually okay with UBB provided it is publically-regulated, and done so in the old-style "can't fart without permission" style of consumer-oriented, balanced-profits manner.

Public monopoly should exchange low-risk captive-market profits (ie. equivalent to a GIC) for QoS guarantees and billing rate control.

BC's ICBC is currently an example of doing it nearly right. So was BC Hydro back in the day, and BC Tel years before that. Everyone's interests were well-balanced: guarantees of service, of coverage, of cost, of profits; and because of employee unions, guarantee of wages. Everyone got treated fair and square.

We should have public infrastructure as befits a modern societyowned and operated and regulated by us.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:25 PM on September 9, 2010


Of course, if we aren't going whole hog on keeping it public, for the benefit and profit of the nation, then we better cut it completely loose and let the savage market determine its every aspect.

It won't be pretty.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:27 PM on September 9, 2010


I'm actually okay with UBB provided it is publically-regulated, and done so in the old-style "can't fart without permission" style of consumer-oriented, balanced-profits manner.

I think you are saying that it is okay as long as the usage fee is reasonable? Let's make a distinction.. UBB doesn't refer to the concept of usage based billing, it refers to Bell's Usage Based Billing motion to charge $1.25/GB above 60GB. That specific move was intended to prop up other data businesses (telephone and cable TV). It has absolutely nothing to do with cost of delivery.

It is pretty obvious that data pipes should be treated in exactly the same manner as gas pipes, electricity pipes, and water pipes. I don't think we'll get there any time soon though.
posted by Chuckles at 12:03 AM on September 10, 2010


It is pretty obvious that data pipes should be treated in exactly the same manner as gas pipes, electricity pipes, and water pipes. I don't think we'll get there any time soon though.

While I agree with you when it's phrased that way round, I'm starting to think that I agree the other way round too - maybe a per unit price-hike past a certain level of electricity usage per household would encourage more responsible use. And that's now going totally off-topic.

On-topic: I didn't really get it when I got the Avaaz email. But now I do (thank you MeFi)
posted by greymullet at 3:45 AM on September 10, 2010


Thanks Beardman. It absolutely could be just inflated Parliament Hill gossip, that Harper is trying to replace the current head of the CRTC. I don't know much about the personal relationship between von Finckenstein and Harper, and maybe in fact Harper just wants to offer him other positions that he thinks would be better suited to him. Or maybe von Finckenstein has received zero offers of employment anywhere... I have not found any official documentation of lucrative offers, only the Ottawa gossip I linked to.

In any case, if I were von Finckenstein (or any high ranking public servant), I would be sure to (a) appear completely neutral in my dealings with elected officials, and (b) do my best to maintain the integrity, and appearance of integrity of the institution I worked for. So I don't see his statement as indicating anything other than smart politics.
posted by molecicco at 3:54 AM on September 10, 2010


Thank you for posting this.
posted by ~ at 7:53 AM on September 10, 2010


Re: Rex Murphy: three days ago I saw him on the street in front of the U of Toronto philosophy department, holding a Second Cup coffee, standing next to a homeless man and looking slightly upward in confusion. It was like a cryptic painting.
posted by Beardman at 5:02 PM on September 10, 2010


That might have just been two homeless guys.
posted by GuyZero at 1:30 PM on September 11, 2010


AFP:
Kory Teneycke, former chief spokesman of conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, quit less than four months ahead of the planned launch of the Sun TV News Channel, which was his brainchild.

Quebec media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau replaced Teneycke with Luc Lavoie, a veteran executive in his Quebecor empire....
posted by russilwvong at 3:58 PM on September 15, 2010


Luv is an old Mulroney crony, just as despicable as Tenecyke.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:39 PM on September 15, 2010


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