Monday, June 14, 2010

Fox North Would Never Take Off Here, Eh?

Have been invited on CHCH's Live @ 5:30 this afternoon to vent about this wacky new "Fox News North" venture. Seems the deep thinkers at Quebecor see an opportunity to launch a right wing specialty news service in Canada to help counter the supposed commie bias at CBC News and to help us all stop feeling so smug and superior about Bill O'Reilly. A press conference is booked for Tuesday.
I suggest to 'CH pals Mark Hebscher (fresh off his honeymoon) and Donna Skelly that not all the garbage imported across the border sells in this country. The good folks at the very same TV station, CHCH, still have tread marks up their backsides after being run over by the icky E! Brand.
A Canadian version of Fox News seems like an even bigger reach and risks running hard up against a fundamental difference between the two nations. Some Americans, maybe just due to the fact that there are so many more of them, actually take Fox News seriously. Canadians tend to see it as a joke.
Maybe it was because we were weaned on SCTV's Earl Camembert and Floyd Robertson. All that partisan hollering seems like a news talk radio idea, period, in Canada.
It is interesting that CNN is proportionally way more popular in Canada than it is in the States, where ratings have dropped off to historic lows. To be fair, part of that can be attributed to an uneven playing field. Canadians have had 20 years to get used to CNN at channel 33 (as it is on Rogers Toronto). Fox News is buried way up the dial and off most cable plus packages.
Which is presumably where the new Quebecor news channel will land. There are confirmed reports the proposed station has already begun to recruit on-air personalities. Krista Erickson, who enjoys special access to Calgary Conservative MP Lee Richardson, is one CBC defector who has jumped to the new deal. David Akin has also been lured from Canwest to Sun Media and former Astral Media radio Ottawa bureau chief Brian Lilley is also now in the Quebecor fold as a senior correspondent.
Former Tory party communications director Kory Teneycke is behind the venture, so you know it will be fair and balanced. Rogers Ailes he's not, which may be a good thing depending on how you feel about Fox News boss Roger Ailes.
Quebecor has a ways to go to prove it can compete in English Canadian TV. When they took over Toronto1, for example, competing ad sales guys started calling it Toronto zero-point-one to help illustrate its hold on the ratings.
While Canadian viewers have always had a sizable news appetite, not so much these days (check the latest CBC National News numbers) and especially not so much for for specialty news channels. CNN does draw more than the CBC or CTV news networks in Canada but it really is a race among turtles compared to overall viewing. Canadians tend to like their network newscasts to be dull and predictable, with CTV's Lloyd Robertson the big draw at 11 ever since he was pulled off pyramid duty.
Hard to see a new news circus act catching on in Canada. We tend to like our funny news intentionally funny. The Daily Show and The Cobert Report, for example, draw a much larger audience in Canada, proportionally, than they do in the States. The gang at 22 Minutes have been prime time news mockers for an even longer run.
With Quebecor behind it, the eventual launch of Fox North does have the potential to be a laff riot. Watch Live@5:30 for more fair and balanced coverage.
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