New Canadian news channel tries to revive the Sun News Network model

While Canadians were focused on a U.S. presidential debate, a trailer was released for a new conservative news channel called The News Forum that purports to “provide viewers with politically balanced domestic and international perspectives, inclusive of a conservative counterbalance for the current media landscape.”

The channel has a carriage deal with Bell Canada on all Bell’s TV systems. It is now operating as an exempt national news service, according to the CRTC, which allows such operations without a licence until they reach 200,000 subscribers.

Its ownership is a bit unclear, but its CEO is Tore Stautland, who is CEO of Trillennium Media Group Inc., a producer of mainly Christian programming for channels like Daystar Canada, Vision and Joytv.

Its on-air hosts include former Conservative minister Tony Clement, former Ontario Progressive Conservative Party leadership candidate Tanya Granic Allen, author Faytene Grasseschi, lawyer K.R. Davidson, former YesTV host Sheldon Neil, and former Global Thunder Bay reporter/anchor Nima Rajan.

From its ownership, description, choice of hosts and choice of topics and guests, it seems clear that The News Forum is designed to be a social/religious conservative outlet, meant more as a source of right-wing opinion than hard news. Which will no doubt draw comparisons to the Sun News Network, Quebecor’s right-wing news-opinion channel that shut down five years ago.

Based on my brief glances at its programming available online, it seems the main differences relate to tone (no Ezra Levant or Brian Lilley gleefully throwing mud, though Lilley has already been a guest), slant (more religious) and budget (more along the lines of a YouTube channel than a major TV network).

Like Sun News, The News Forum doesn’t try for a partisan balance. Almost all of the politicians it interviews are conservative.

The channel has made it clear it won’t shy away from controversial topics (and by that it seems to mean defending unpopular conservative views), conducting a friendly interview with controversial anti-trans researcher Debra Soh, for example.

It’s not clear that The News Forum will have actual journalists beyond that on-air staff, relying instead on a Canadian Press subscription and summarizing newspaper stories to provide that raw news material.

Its schedule consists of the same half-hour shows repeated every three hours. Besides those linked to above, it also includes two shows from Israel.

By not having that daytime news block and expensive journalists covering the country, could it save enough money to make this channel viable? We’ll see.

5 thoughts on “New Canadian news channel tries to revive the Sun News Network model

  1. Dilbert

    A couple of interesting things here. If you zoom the camera back a bit from Tore Stautland and TMG, you find Zoomer Media Group… and Moses Znaimer. Suddenly you have a whole different situation going on. That by itself makes this one a little bit different.

    Second interesting thing for me is that do appear to be taking a careful route of limiting their total programming spend, and trying to turn limited material into enough to get people to watch. It’s an interesting play, and certainly will help them to keep their production costs down at least initially.

    Third, I think that it’s also a pretty solid move to capture an unserved Canadian market: Gently religious, mid conservatives. This pretty much covered much of the population from just west of Toronto all the way to the Rockies. It’s the same people who generally vote conservative and have those sort of views. Keeping away from the strident and often annoying voices like Levant might give them a chance to make some inroads into this viewer community. They do also have the some ability to use their existing more religious channels to perhaps filter some people into their new channel.

    The only thing I think they are doing wrong at this point is that they are based on the wrong place. Instead of being in the axis of Toronto evil, they really should be PROUDLY based in Calgary or similar, and yes, even street fronting it like CityTV did on start up. It might give them more chance to get hooked into a community willing to listen to their material.

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  2. Carter d

    In my honest opinion, I don’t think this should be launched as a TV channel first based on how this sounds like. This should be a well marketed streaming channel online first (learn from CBSN in the US how they made that a successful online streaming news channel), and then a TV channel second. I know The other issue I have if they want to make, which I don’t think they’ve learned from Sun’s mistake from almost 6 or 7 years ago with mandatory carriage is that it’s currently only on Bell’s system , even if they tried to put it on other providers, I’m worried it’s going to fall in the same fate. Where they spend a lot of money on this programming and people and it gets little to no ratings as a return in investment.

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