The News Forum, a low-budget conservative news-talk TV channel that last year got enough subscribers to require a broadcasting licence from the CRTC, is trying again to get the commission to force Canadian television distributors to offer the channel to their subscribers, less than two months after the commission denied their first attempt at this status.
The channel, owned (in fact if not legally) by Tore Stautland, asked the commission when it was licensed to be given the same category of licence as Canadian all-news channels CBC News Network, RDI, CTV News Channel and LCN. These channels are subject to a special status requiring all distributors to carry them, though it is up to the subscriber to choose whether or not to actually subscribe to it. (CBC NN and RDI also have a separate mandatory subscription order in Quebec and the rest of Canada, respectively.)
In its decision in May approving the licence, the CRTC denied that status, saying “the Commission is not satisfied that The News Forum provides updated news reports every 120 minutes,” which is one of the criteria it set in its policy.
It left the door open to applying again for that status, once it shows it meets the criteria.
So now The News Forum is trying again, after providing an “updated schedule” showing “daily updates” every two hours from 6am to 8pm. (The schedule suggests they will start at five minutes and 30 seconds past every two hours, until 30 minutes past the hour, but I think they meant to say the updates would be five minutes long until 5:30 past the hour.)
A glance at its website and YouTube channel suggest little else has changed about The News Forum. It still doesn’t seem to employ any journalists besides the anchors, who read out news briefs to still images and then conduct interviews via video link.
But that wouldn’t necessarily preclude it from getting that status. The CRTC’s criteria related to programming are the following:
- Providing news updates every 120 minutes
- At least 90% Canadian programming
- At least 16 hours a day original programming (first-run or repeated)
- At least 95% of all programming from the following categories: News, analysis and interpretation, long-form documentary and reporting and actualities
- No more than 12 minutes of advertising per hour
- Operate a live broadcast facility and maintain news bureaus in at least three regions other than that of the live broadcast facility
- “have the ability to report on international events from a Canadian perspective”
Like Sun News Network before it, TNF is fully original, though it relies heavily on repeat programming and much of that is opinion, which can be classified as “analysis and interpretation.”
The part about news bureaus and broadcast facilities might be a challenge for The News Forum. But it will be up to the commission to decide if it meets the criteria.
And even if it does get the status, no one has to subscribe to it (unless it’s in a package you want).
The CRTC is accepting comments on The News Forum’s application until Aug. 8. You can submit comments here. Note that all information submitted, including contact information, becomes part of the public record.