Fox News North denies hate propaganda

Pierre Karl Peladeau issues denials to defuse tension

TORONTO -- It's never a good sign when a broadcaster must deny spreading hate propaganda.

But that's exactly what Quebec media mogul Pierre Karl Peladeau has done with a series of denials to defuse tension surrounding his bid to launch Sun TV News, a right wing all-news channel for Canadians.

"We have never published or broadcast hate propaganda," Peladeau, CEO of Quebecor Media, a Quebec broadcast and publishing giant, said in a newspaper editorial.

"There is no secret deal regarding Sun TV News between Quebecor and Prime Minister Stephen Harper or any other member of his government," he added.

Quebecor Media earlier stirred criticism when the media group hired Harper's former communications director Kory Teneycke to launch and run Sun TV News.

Teneycke was forced to resign in mid-September amid allegations that an online petition drive against Sun TV News had been tampered with.

Then Peladeau acknowledged the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

"There is no connection of any sort between Sun TV News and Fox News," although he added company shareholders might appreciate if Sun TV News returned on its investment like Fox News does.

The media glare on Quebecor's plans for a conservative all-news channel was turned up this summer when the Canadian Press newswire service reported Harper had lunch in New York City with Fox News' Rupert Murdoch and Roger Aisles, and that Teneycke, the future head of Sun TV News, was also at the table.

That news stirred criticism that Harper's federal government had a vested interest in seeing Sun TV News receive a national TV broadcast license.

Quebecor Media in recent weeks had had to fight perceptions that the departure of Teneycke, and criticisms of its right-leaning political coverage, is also judgment on the future viability of Sun TV News in the marketplace.

Peladeau defended his proposed all-news channel, dubbed Fox News North by critics, as giving Canadians choice on the TV dial.

"...Isn't it shocking that a third of Canadians who watch all-news television watch CNN?," he argued in his editorial.

"I don't want to get into criticism of the two existing all-news networks, but when Larry King draws more Canadian viewers than Power and Politics, there is something wrong," Peladeau added, referencing incumbent all-news channels operated by the CBC and CTV.

The media exec then asked the CRTC, Canada's TV regulator, to grant Sun TV News a broadcast license in the name of market diversity.

"What we see here is an opportunity for Canadians to have another choice," Peladeau argued.

That followed the Quebecor Media on Tuesday conceding that Sun TV News will not receive special treatment from the CRTC, as earlier requested, to launch into the Canadian TV market (HR, 10/5).

Peladeau insisted a strong Canadian democracy depended on an array of news resources and voices to inform the public.

"... We need to have the largest amount of distribution channels to reach both incumbent audiences and the new audiences that have adopted the new technological tools," he wrote, pitching Sun TV News as a watchdog of democracy.

The CRTC will hold public hearings on the Sun TV News regulatory application in November.
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