Canada's Conservative TV News Network Seeks Government Help for Survival

The do-or-die application to the CRTC from the network likened to Fox News Channel calls for more subscriber revenue to stem deep operating losses.

TORONTO – After nearly two years on air, Canadian red-blooded conservative news channel Sun News, dubbed Fox News North by critics, is losing money and begging for a regulatory life-line.

Quebecor Media, which launched Sun News as an antidote to existing all-news channels at the CBC and CTV with a liberal bias, has told the CRTC the news channel stands to lose $17 million in 2013 , with additional losses after that.

“This is clearly unsustainable,” the Quebec media giant said in a regulatory filing to the CRTC, the country’s TV watchdog.

A lack of carriage deals explains the Sun News losses, according to Quebecor.

The 24-hour news channel has a carriage deal in Quebec with Quebecor, a major cable local operator, and cable giants Shaw Communications and Cogeco also signed early deals to carry the all-news channel modeled on the Fox News Channel in the U.S. market.

But other major carriers have yet to conclude deals with Sun News, including MTS and Telus.

“In case you were wondering, both Telus and MTS offer Al Jazeera, BBC World News and other foreign all-news channels,” Quebecor said in its filing.

Sun News is also failing to connect with Canadians because of the wide choice they have in the all-news channel arena, with CNN, Fox News Channel, CNBC, Bloomberg Television and MSNBC and other American channels widely reaching into Canadian homes.

The result is Sun News has vastly lower national network awareness than its major homegrown rivals CBC News Network and CTV News Channel.

“Just over one in three Canadians have even heard of Sun News. Less than half that number has watched,” Quebecor told the CRTC.

To get Sun News back on its feet, the Quebec media giant is asking for a mandatory distribution order from the CRTC.

That would force the all-news channel on Canadians by ensuring carriage on all domestic analog and digital basic services.

That move would vastly increase revenue at $0.18 per subscriber for the news channel.

Quebecor in 2010 had to drop an earlier request to the CRTC to guarantee carriage for Sun News after the regulator said the channel would have to compete for cable and satellite TV slots like other upstart TV services.