Inside Sun Media’s CBC-Canada Day conspiracy theory

Because I’m a Bell TV subscriber, I haven’t been watching much Sun News recently — like most everyone else in the country.

But the few times I’ve tuned in while at work, I’ve heard a rotating casts of Sun hosts railing about a nefarious deal between the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to hog the TV rights to the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill.  The feds sold the rights to the show to itself, the Sun alleged.

“Heritage Canada inked a deal with the taxpayer-funded CBC worth an estimated $600,000 to air a star-studded line-up of Canadian greats, including Sam Roberts, Great Big Sea, indie rocker Dan Mangan, pop star Pierre Lapointe and salsa princess Florence K.,” the Sun reported.

The Sun pins the blame on Heritage Minister (and moderate Tory) James Moore. “Moore said Sun News could have bid for the broadcast rights, but chose not to. But what he didn’t say is that CBC has an unfair advantage because it receives federal funding and can afford commercial-free broadcasts, unlike private networks which rely on advertising dollars.”

The Sun’s campaign sounded torqued, so I made some calls to CBC to find out what was really going on. It turns out the $600,000 figure is, apparently, pulled out of thin air.

The CBC is not paying Canadian Heritage $600,000 for rights to broadcast the Canada Day show.

Instead, the networking is providing production — cameras, trucks, switching, lights, blah blah– and is also sharing other unspecified costs of the show, but not at $600k.

For their part, Heritage lined up copyright permissions from the 106 scheduled performers that allowed CBC to legally broadcast it.

If you’ve ever been to a Canada Day show, you know that it is not — how to say this kindly? — a particularly attractive television property.  Of the acts listed by the Sun, I’ve heard of only Sam Roberts and Great Big Sea. For me,  Canada Day will forever evoke images of CanCon crap like Rene Simard and Patsy Gallant, as well as lots of native dancing and fiddlers.

So, not surprisingly, when Canadian Heritage cast around for broadcasters interested in carrying the show, only the CBC showed any real interest.

After they inked the broadcast deal, however, we learned that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine, would be attending the event.  Add the Royals, and suddenly other broadcasters — Sun TV, come on down —  wanted a piece of the pie.

But because negotiating copyright clearances is a huge pain in the ass, there’s no time to do that for other broadcasters.

And, besides, CBC had already won the rights fairly by being the only bidder, fair and square.

The Sun’s gripe, it appears, is just sour grapes over not getting the video rights to Wills and Kate.

28 thoughts on “Inside Sun Media’s CBC-Canada Day conspiracy theory

  1. I haven’t seen Sun News but by the sounds of things their argument is that the CBC got a sweetheart deal from their own parent Department within the government. I would say they take issue with the CBC competing in the marketplace with taxpayers dollars when the private sector would be better off without the CBC. What’s wrong with that argument? Global or CTV or Sun could have hosted this event no problem and it wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a dime. That sounds reasonable enough.

    1. I’m guessing there won’t be a net cost to the tax payers for this. The ad revenue from an internationally watched first tour of Will and Kate will be more than whatever CBC has put out.

      And Quebecor has deeper pockets than the CBC. If they had their act together, they might land work like this.

    2. Therein lies the rub, Dan. The other broadcasters did not want it. Only the CBC stepped up to the plate to carry live coverage of Parliament Hill Canada Day coverage.

      When you think about it, this is exactly the benefit of having a public broadcaster: covering events and issues that are important, but not profitable for a private company to carry.

      If it weren’t for the CBC covering the national official Canada Day celebrations, then either it wouldn’t get covered or we would have the ghastly ugly circumstance of the government having to PAY someone to cover our national holiday.

      Your arguments are, however, sound when it comes to Hockey Night in Canada, Olympics and other profitable events that the private sector is capable and willing to cover.

      But witness the horror and outrage from so many, including arch conservatives and anti-CBC types, when the CBC made the smart fiscal decision not to be blackmailed into paying too much for the hockey dingle. For some, there is no winning for the CBC.

    3. Dan, I’ve no doubt “the private sector would be better off without the CBC.” I think the more important question is whether CBC is good for Canadians and for Canada, and yes, I very much think that is the case.

      And why can we not have both a useful and interesting national broadcaster AND a robust private broadcasting sector? Isn’t that what we now have?

      As a matter of fact, Canada’s private broadcasters are among the most profitable businesses in the country, and always have been. They don’t need to kill off CBC to thrive.

      1. Why do you think that price is too high to support a national public broadcaster that operates radio, TV, and online services in two official languages? If one looks at the amount per person spent for public broadcasters in Canada versus other countries, the CBC is quite a bargain. If your concern is cost, there really isn’t much to complain about.

        If you are just ideologically opposed to having a public broadcaster, however, then that’s a different matter of course. In that case, your opinion is simply not shared by the vast majority of Canadians, who polls show, do want to keep CBC, and are prepared to support it with their tax dollars.

  2. So the CBC is paying “unspecified costs” but not $600,000? Maybe it’s $601,000, or $599,000. Sounds more to me like SUN got to the bottom of another CBC taxpayer rip-off. When you’re given more than a billion tax dollars a year, I guess $600,000 can be dismissed as “unspecified costs.” Please privatize the CBC. If it was ever needed, it certainly isn’t anymore.

    1. Or maybe it’s $5 or maybe it’s a $1M. Where’s the ripoff? No one else wanted to pay this money to cover our national official Canada Day celebration. The CBC stepped up to the plate. The others missed the boat. Are you suggesting the government should pay SunTV to cover this event? What a joke of an issue from a joke of broadcaster.

    2. Lol, you sound like you work for sun tv. You assume how much they paid, and assume it was a rip off, but present no facts, in fact you ignore the facts.
      You can’t be part of an intelligent debate if you just make claims without facts.

      I guarantee, 100%, you can’t answer these questions, without spin or insults, but it’s worth a try; here goes, you call it a taxpayer rip off. Can you present one fact that shows anything illegal was done , and since you say it was a taxpayer rip off, you must know how much money was spent, because you couldn’t call it that without knowing how much was spent, so please tell us how much was spent! Bet you can’t just simply answer those questions.

    3. Hey, can I get a link to the article you read? “CBC taxpayer rip-off” sounds much more interesting than ‘Sun didn’t bid, CBC got rights, Sun wanted rights when it was too late”.

  3. ScumMedia is there to promote the Harper regime, not the nation of Canada. CTV, Global, Corus also do their bit to advocate for the Privatizer In Chief. Parliament Hill remains open to the CBC, until the naming rights are sold to Rogers.

  4. A requirement was that the broadcast be commercial free. Only one network could meet that demand.

    Sun News was specifically excluded from participating in the bidding even though they were announced to be live by broadcast date.

    If not $600,000, how much?

  5. “This guy accused someone of lying, and I’m like, ‘that doesn’t sound like a lie to me’, so I, like, ask the guy who was accused of lying if he lied. He said he didn’t lie, and that the other guy was a liar for calling him a liar. So there you have it. First guy’s a liar and a poor sport to boot. He should just accept the fact that the other guy’s not lying when he does…things.”

  6. In the midst of this fake outrage, can we please not forget which broadcaster, regardless of bid, would be able to reach the MOST Canadians? If looking at it from a purely common-sense perspective, CBC will reach WAY more Canadians through national and regional cable channels, its website streaming and presumably through iOS or Android Apps…and the old fashioned way – “rabbit ears.” Sun TV, with it’s limited cable audience and reach, won’t attract nearly as many viewers – even if the Sun newspapers promoted it too. If looked at from a good-use-of-tax-dollars point of view, going with the CBC ensures the government maximizes its Canada Day investment by ensuring the greatest number of Canadian taxpayers may actually see the big show. Besides, if CBC gets really poor ratings Sun TV gets to complain about the Corp some more…something it seems better at than broadcasting anyways.

    1. “In the midst of this fake outrage, can we please not forget which broadcaster, regardless of bid, would be able to reach the MOST Canadians? If looking at it from a purely common-sense perspective, CBC will reach WAY more Canadians”

      Here’s a thought. What if all the networks carried the show? Would that work for ya’? Many more Canadians could watch.

  7. Funniest dam thing – I cannot GET Sun News because I am in New Brunswick..and Bell ALiant rules..and they got no latch to Sun News. what a bunch of wussies. I am moving within the year to a country far far away..and guess what? I have discovered watcdhing TV will be the least of my behaviours! HAHAHAH FUCK CANADA

  8. “And, besides, CBC had already won the rights fairly by being the only bidder, fair and square”. Usually where there is a bidder there is an exchange of money. So what’s your argument,. bid or no bid, McGregor?

    If James Moore were to give SNN 1.1B yearly they too could have “bid”?? on the parliament hill show free of commercials,
    Free enterprise businesses require commercial time.
    The FIX WAS IN. If there was an offering to the other networks, Moore knew which network was going to carry the program.

  9. If sun-tv is anything like the newspaper rags they produce, no wonder they don’t have an audience! i would hesitate to use that trash for the bottom of my bird’s cage! – if i bought it, which won’t ever happen! neither will a newspaper/tv channel that endorses that smarmy fundamentalist that calls himself a pm………

  10. Ted,
    You say that none of the others wanted the broadcast rights, but isn’t Sun News making the claim that either they or someone else wanted the broadcast rights but taxpayers dollars were used to squeeze them out? Again, I’ve never seen Sun News so I’m going by what information is posted here. If nobody else wanted to broadcast the event, that would be fine for the state broadcaster to go ahead and make the Canada Day celebrations and Prince William’s visit to Canada available for the rest of us to see. However, I have a hard time accepting your notion that nobody else wanted the broadcast rights. Why on earth wouldn’t CTV want those rights? I would have to assume that at least CTV’s all-news channel would have been interested.

  11. The neo-cons love to rail at the CBC because all they watch is American Idol, NASCAR and NFL football. It would never occur to them that a state broadcaster is a necessary platform to introduce Canadians to their country and fellow countrymen. CTV isn’t doing it and Global isn’t doing it simply because there’s no money in a show like Country Canada, the nature of Things or Land and Sea. No money, not no value. Neo-cons can’t understand that concept. And watching Stunt TV isn’t going to help them bridge that ignorance gap! As my old mum used to say, they are more to be pitied than laughed at!

  12. Ratings drop?? That was in April. They’re already ahead of CTV in certain slots. Why would you use an old news story to make your point??

  13. The Canada day festivities are embarrassing. It reminds me of a poorly produced Anne Murray Christmas special in which all the big named guests cancelled at the last minute and were replaced by stand ins. No…sorry…It reminds me more of the 3am segment of the Jerry Lewis telethon.

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