This is about as accurate a report on Sun News’s setting as you’re likely to get, courtesy Montreal-based media blogger Steve Faguy. My additions:
- The “supporting network” point is a biggie. CBC and CTV’s News Networks were built onto existing network news operations, including local network-owned stations and foreign bureaus. Sun News had to build and maintain its news service practically from scratch.
- That said, “news doesn’t pay” is an equally salient point. At the start of this decade, Rogers tried to start CityNews Network, a 24 local news channel in Toronto, building off the resources of the (well-respected) CityNews and CityPulse brands. It foundered within three years, unable to compete with the far more established CP24. Again, parallel with the young SNN and the well-established CBCNN and CTVNN.
- SNN’s most-watched program in its short history was the boxing match between Patrick Brazeau and Justin Trudeau. 92,000 watched it. I’m not sure what exactly to draw from this point, though I note the two most-watched English specialty channels are TSN and Sportsnet.
- It’s hard to see how a third mainstream, English 24-hour national news channel can succeed in Canada. For comparison, Australia (a slightly smaller country) only has ABC News 24 and Sky News Australia; the UK (about double the size) has BBC News, Sky News Channel, and Al-Jazeera English (if you think Russia-owned RT UK counts, you’re kidding yourself). That’s setting aside imported news stations, which in Canada includes CNN, HLN, and (if you shell out for the right package) Fox News and MSNBC.
- Shaw Media would be the group most likely to make a viable go of a 24-news operation, as they own the Global network and a reasonably successful local news station, Global News: BC 1 (itself built on the operation of Global’s popular and respected Vancouver operation, formerly known as BCTV). Al-Jazeera could also try a Canadian operation, piggybacking off its American cousin the same way its fledgling beIn Sports channel does (though it would likely need a Canadian ownership partner).
- Be honest: how many of those myriad cable channels do you watch? Sun News Network is not the first cable station to fail (RIP Cool TV, WTSN, and The Ecology Channel), but it will be far from the last, especially as digital streaming and over-the-top services gain traction.