Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fox News north?

Following up on yesterday's post, if all this reporting turns out to be true and there is a Quebecor plan in the works for a "Fox News" style TV station, this would be a huge development for the Canadian political (and journalistic) landscape, to make the very obvious opening point. So let's go ahead and overwork this, just for fun. By throwing out a few more thoughts, mostly in question form since this is a non-existent entity at the moment and could become something other than what we're hearing about at the moment.

Such a right-wing station would no doubt have its supporters, those poor aggrieved citizens among us who view the Canadian media as biased in favour of a liberal persuasion. There would likely be lots of team Conservative support for a television station that would mirror and foster the right wing's positions. How many people there are who would support such a channel by subscribing is another question (assuming it would be such a channel but who knows it might be on the main roster). Whatever the case, if you weigh in the typical political numbers, this type of channel would be starting out with, let's say, a 35% share of Canadian consumers who might be interested. To sustain long term viability, they'd likely have to branch out beyond that viewer. So whether the hyped format, thus far, would prove sustainable would be a big question.

Do we have any illusions about the drooling that would be going on in Conservative political circles at the moment at the thought of such a news channel springing up? It would likely be considered one more outlet for messaging opportunities. In the U.S., Republican talking points have been used by Fox News as research. Would that kind of alliance be possible here too? Why not? If they follow the Fox recipe that is. Oh, the CRTC would stop this, you say. On news opinion shows? Uh huh. Paul Wells pointed out this report last night that suggests Teneycke would see himself continuing to participate in electoral campaigns should he take on this new role. So much for respecting boundaries.

A few questions on the persons involved in all of this...

Teneycke's high profile but he seems a bit of a risk for what sounds like a major journalistic endeavour. It would probably be one of the biggest in Canada since the start-up of the National Post. Yes he's been a PMO director of communications for a year, prior to that a lobbyist, etc., and seems highly motivated. But to be involved in a TV operation and oversee a Parliamentary Bureau of a major media chain, it strikes you as a bit of a leap. His gig on CBC didn't suggest that this was the road he was heading down. Unless it was some kind of a test run to determine how much interest there would be in that style of brash Conservative TV commenting. He was on contract with Quebecor during that gig, according to CP. So it's worth asking whether he displayed the stuff of a budding young media executive.

Is there going to be a major journalistic figure or two or three that jump on board? Who would they be who would so overtly ally themselves with a clearly Conservative persuasion of an operation? Who might risk losing some of their journalistic independence in the process? Who is the Brit Hume of the Canadian press corps? Or is that stuff so old-fashioned these days and are we getting way ahead of ourselves. Fun to ponder though.

Seems like a bold move for Quebecor and Pierre Karl Peladeau. While they own Videotron and TVA, this is a big move to English Canada and it's tied to a very partisan operator with limited experience. Talk about a high risk appetite. Again, there will likely be lots more to come on this, but to build an entire news channel sounds daunting. CBC and CTV had established networks in place before they ever went with a 24/7 operation. Does TVA figure equivalently to them? And what's with the major CBC hatorade from Peladeau? Agitating for a review of CBC's mandate as he plans his own news channel?

Probably a long way to go on this one, lots of questions and info to come but it bears watching in a big way.