TORONTO – The early reviews on Sun News Network, Canada’s red-blooded conservative TV news channel: more Foxy than Fox News North.
“… Sun TV really isn’t about Hard News and Straight Talk. It’s about Hot Chicks and Sexy Outfits,” declared red-faced columnist Tasha Kheiriddin in the right-leaning National Post newspaper. “For its women presenters, there seems to be a ban on sleeves. Not a jacket in sight. Only cocktail dresses, as clingy and low-cut as possible.”
Not even Sun News Network host Ezra Levant flashing Prophet Muhammed cartoons on Canadian TV screens — the same ones that touched off an Arab world protest in 2005 after they were published in Denmark — moved the audience dial.
“Free speech is always under attack. I’m 100 per cent convinced this show will be attacked by the government too,” Levant, summoning his inner-Glenn Beck, declared on air.
Apparently, the federal Conservatives, currently running for re-election, ignored the ratings-seeking prank.
“Well, Nervous Nellies on the left can exhale,” Carleton University journalism professor Jeff Sallot wrote in the Ottawa Citizen “The Sun News Network, for the moment at least, is irrelevant to any political calculation. How can I tell? The Conservatives, who are running the most efficient campaign among the four national parties, are ignoring the little network.”
Quebec media giant Quebecor Media, which launched Sun News Network this past Monday, has pitched the new news channel as an antidote to existing all-news channels at the CBC and CTV with a liberal bias, and tapping into a Canadian Tea Party base. But The Canadian Press newswire TV critic Bill Brioux noted Sun News Network may be failing to connect with Canadians because of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, not politics.
“Canadians would have found the Sun News debut fresh and feisty and may even have agreed with many of the jabs — if they hadn’t been busy watching the (Boston) Bruins tame the (Montreal) Canadiens on CBC,” Brioux wrote.
A lack of early carriage deals may also explain Sun News Network embracing Canadians like a wet blanket out of the gates. The 24-hour news channel has a distribution deal with Quebecor Media, and western Canadian cable giant Shaw Communications also has a deal to carry the all-news channel modeled on the Fox News Channel in the U.S. market. But other major carriers like Rogers Communication and BCE have yet to conclude deals with Sun News Network.