Daily Archives: September 9, 2010

Fox News North Update [Updated Further]

Stephen Harper — in office by way of one in three Canadian voters — interviewed on Fox News Sunday

Here are a couple of articles to provide context for this story: Globe & Mail and Toronto Star.

For me, the elements that tell are as follows.

First, Stephen Harper and his then-press aide Kory Teneycke met secretly with Rupert Murdoch and his Fox News president Roger Ailes, a former Nixon/Reagan/Bush operative.  The fact that the meeting was secret — that is, kept off the prime minister’s calendar and not freely disclosed — is disturbing, to say the least.  The prime minister serves at the will of the people.  Murdoch is a notorious plutocrat who in little more than a decade has laid waste to American television journalism.  There was no reason for them to meet without public knowledge, unless of course the content of the meeting was intended to be kept from the public.  In any event, the secrecy was deliberate, which raises legitimate concerns about the behavior and intentions of a public servant (which Harper apparently does not understand: that he is a servant of the people and serves only at their will).

Second, shortly after this meeting, Teneycke resigned his position in the prime minister’s office and joined Quebecor as the point man for the development of what conservatives themselves had been referring to as Fox News North.

Third, Quebecor was allowed to jump the line and applied for a Category 1 “must carry” cable license for which it was not qualified, and which the CRTC recently denied.

Fourth, there are indications that the Harper government has been offering inducements to CRTC chair Konrad Von Finckenstein to resign (something this prime minister has been known to do).  Meanwhile the contract of the deputy chair of the CRTC — who is opposed to the application — has not been renewed.

Fifth, while the always-scowling-and-aggressively-shouting-down-his interlocutors-while-dismissing-any-opposition-as-“all-lies-from-start-to-finish” Kory Teneycke whines in public about “free speech” (as though the application for a broadcast license must be granted or be regarded as suppression of speech), Quebecor is once again being allowed to push to the head of the line and is seeking a “mandatory carry” license, which is very rarely granted and only after an extensive vetting process.  Quebecor is doing this even though the most obvious option available to Sun TV now is simply to change its content to all-news and continue to broadcast while offering its product to an already available market.  But Sun TV can’t turn a profit and the “mandatory carry” license would not only change that, it would also give the station broad access to a market that does not seem much interested in buying what it is selling.  As John Doyle put it in the Globe & Mail the other day, Fox News North is only acceptable “if it’s being jammed down our throats.”

So why exactly should this application be granted?  It’s not a free speech issue, it’s a regulatory issue.  Sun TV already has a license.  Why does it need another?  It can simply change its content if it wishes to.  The answer seems to be that it is gaming the system — evidently with the help of a sitting prime minister — in order to turn around a money-losing business while gaining deep access to the Canadian market for the sole purpose of propagating an aggressively rightward view of the world consistent with the Sun News brand.  Quebecor, of course, has the right to make the application.  But they have no right to expect the application will be granted just for the asking.  And that is what they’re doing.  They already have a broadcast license and a money-losing TV station.  Why then is this our problem?


We are doing so well that it exceeds expectation.  We have doubled our readership since early March and it continues to rise steadily.  By early spring we could expect to get 300 to 400 visits per day on a particularly good string of days.  In the last month or so that has increased to 400 to 500 per day.  This past week we seem to have broken very decisively through the 500 upper limit and are steadily moving toward 600 visits per day.  That translates anywhere between 12,000 to 14,000 visits per month — and from all around the world too.  The better news is that we are are still finding our community.  These numbers can go still higher, I have no doubt.

So here’s what we’re looking for: byline correspondents who will post for us on a regular basis, whatever “regular” means to you: twice a week, once week, once every two weeks, once a month — or just anytime you’re in the mood and have reason to post.  It doesn’t matter how often you post.  It only matters that you post.

As you may have noticed I’ve come up with various strategies to ensure the blog portion of the site has daily content, and I (along with a solid core of devotees) try to write a number of posts per week on current events that bring Frye relevantly into play.  Which suggests that all of this is engaging enough for our increasing readership.  Plus more and more people are searching our more than one thousand archived posts while also delving deep into the Denham library, which is already an extraordinary resource that has only been around for nine months and will continue to grow.  We have great plans for it.

The other thing we need therefore are a couple of technically proficient administrators who can work behind the scenes to care for the Denham library.  And we definitely need an administrator for the site’s Facebook page to extend our outreach.

Either way, we need more content from more people, and we hope any number of you might come forward.  We have a lot of readers.  We’d like more of them to become contributors.

Leo Tolstoy


Excerpt from a documentary that includes extensive footage of Tolstoy in the last year of his life.  Trailer for the movie “The Last Station” here.

Today is Leo Tolstoy‘s birthday (1828-1910).

Frye in “Giants in Time,” The Educated Imagination:

What produces the tolerance is the power of detachment in the imagination, where things are removed just out of reach of belief and action.  Experience is nearly always commonplace; the present is not romantic in the way the past is, and ideals and great visions have a way of becoming shoddy in practical life.  Literature reverses this process.  When experience is removed from us a bit, as the experience of the Napoleonic war is in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, there’s a tremendous increase of dignity and exhileration.  I mention Tolstoy because he’d be the last writer to try to glamorize the war itself, or pretend that its horror wasn’t horrible.  There is an element of illusion even in War and Peace, but the illusion gives us a reality that isn’t in the actual experience of the war itself: the reality of proportion and perspective, of seeing what it’s all about, that only detachment can give.  Literature helps to give us that detachment, and so do history and philosophy and science and everything else worth studying.  But literature has something more to give peculiarly its own: something as absurd and impossible as the primitive magic it so closely resembles. (46-7)