I’m with JJ. There’s no reason for progressives to be upset by the licensing of Quebecor’s 24-hour conservative “news” channel, and plenty of reasons to celebrate. Here are five to start with. Add your own.
1) Because they’ve already proved they can entertain us.
The whole Quebecor license application process was a farce worthy of Feydeau. Remember Libertarians arguing fiercely that the Eeevul CRTC, just this once, should actually USE their satanic powers to license THIS project, because it…uh…well, it’ll promote less governance? Remember the chorus of Truest, Bluest Tories suddenly and mysteriously unwilling to trust the Divine Market, pleading for mandatory carriage, begging for statutory protection for the new Broadcast Voice of Free Enterprise?
Their willingness to jettison principle for profit said more about Cconservative “integrity” and “consistency” than the collected speeches of Maude Barlow (Part 1: Volumes 1-96 on CD, available through this site.)
2) Because we’re not hypocrites.
The converse of (1). It’s difficult to support the licensing of Al Jazeera, APTN, the Women’s Television Network, or other niche broadcasters, and argue against the licensing of a Fox or a Sun media. Shaidle may brag about her lack of principles or consistency: we’re supposed to be better than that.
There IS a difference, mind you. The three networks I cite were created to supply diverse programming programming to specific linguistic or demographic audiences, not to generate support for a political program advanced by one Canadian party. But let’s be honest- there IS no “conservative ideology” in Canada today. Just a stinking casserole of mouldy Reformers, disillusioned Red Tories, rancid Western supremacists, would-be tea-partiers, and disdainful “libertarians”, spiced with a masala of (barely) covert racism, a particularly vengeful and intolerant strain of what its adherents mistakenly call “Christianity”, and political opportunism.
This political Frankenstein persists for one reason only: they have a “party” in power. Their dearest hope is that the new channel will attract more adherents. But TV lights are harsh. The reality is that pulling off the winding sheet and illuminating the corpse will more likely accelerate the decomposition.
3) Because Ezra needs a job and Canada needs a crash course in journalism…
…and based on what I’ve seen when conservative pundits play at “journalism”, the new network will provide a generation of media students with an encyclopedic collection of perfect case studies in “How NOT To…”
Sun Media’s “standards” of accuracy and objectivity have always been the lowest among the major chains; it’s where you get your first job after graduating, where you retire to when you can’t cut it in the real media anymore, or where you stay if you’re without talent, principles or ambition. Ezra’s a desperate media whore, and his willingness to lie, distort, slander, and inflame for the sake of a cheap sound bite will drag even the Sun chain down a notch.
Good. Canada’s broadcast scene has always been a circus, and the circus may just have found its Geek.
4) Because they’ll bleed.
Talk radio makes money. That’s because radio is cheap to produce. Television isn’t.
I haven’t seen the Quebecor “business plan”, but I’d love to. I’m fascinated by the idea that someone thinks they can make money with a product that:
is being offered in a rapidly shrinking and already over-saturated market (when was the last time you explored the bottom end of your channel selection?)
has NO export potential at all, unlike Fox (sorry, Ezra, but no-one outside Canada actually cares what you think about anything.)
starts with premise that it will exclude or alienate a large chunk of its potential market
no major sponsor or advertiser would touch with a ten foot antenna.
Their initial strategy will be to attract viewers with ersatz “outrage”, handing the podium to Canada’s professional hatemongers. They’ll flog that approach for the first three years of their license period, giving incestuous play through their media outlets to breathless coverage of their own “bold” new programming, and regurgitating the same material and pundits from print to radio to TV. (I’m not sure whether the most appropriate metaphor is “Two Girls, One Cup”, or one of those Asian carp farms where the fish eat goose excrement, and the geese eat pig excrement. Whatever - the point is that the same shit goes round and round.)
Following the discovery that Rage Live at the bottom of the dial isn’t a ticket to big audiences, advertising revenues or political change, they’ll scramble to rebrand, just as the Women’s Television Network had to, by moving to the middle, just like the party they serve. And just like the party they serve, they’ll discover that the middle ground is already occupied. And then they’ll learn that while bored Canadian voters may continue to vote Conservative because they don’t have a choice, bored Canadian viewers have plenty.
5) Because CBC has never come up with a home grown version of “Jackass”…
…and the new network might, given Sun TV Head Luc Lavoie’s promise that the network will be “populist, blue-collar, irreverent and, if one wants to go that way, right wing.” (h/t JJ) And that’s great; wouldn’t you pay to see Mark Steyn root through a septic tank blindfolded for his hairpiece?
Crossposted from Stageleft