You know what's peculiar? I'll tell you what's peculiar. And I know I'm not the only one who has noted this particular instance.
You've got this one media conglomerate, Rogers. It takes a look at its cable all-news channel, the 24-hour CityNews Channel, observes that it struggles to attract viewers and advertisers, and axes it. Gone. Just like that.
You've got this other media conglomerate, Quebecor. It takes a look at its cable news channel, the 24-hour Sun News Network, observes that it struggles to attract viewers and advertisers, and decides that the best policy is to plead that the channel be mandatory on your cable menu. I call that peculiar. You can call it perverse. Go ahead.
Now, me, I don't want to see Sun News axed. It's such an entertaining, eccentric foray into a chucklehead world-view that I'd miss it if it were gone. (It probably will be axed; the CRTC is highly unlikely to agree to shove it down the throats of Canadians.) The number of things that Sun News personalities get outraged about just knows no bounds. Watching it is a helluva hilarious journey into a daft world.
It is unlikely to be axed before August, though. That's when Sun News is holding its "Freedom Cruise," a boat trip from Vancouver to Alaska. As the ever-ebullient Ezra Levant says in the online promo, "I am inviting our most enthusiastic Sun News Network viewers to join us on a week-long Alaskan cruise! We've booked 100 cabins on Holland America's MS Zuiderdam, sailing out of Vancouver on Aug. 3, 2013." Note he says 100 cabins. That should accommodate all of the channel's viewers, no problem. Note also that no meeting with Sarah Palin is promised when you get to Alaska. Just in case you were thinking that.
As the sun may be setting on Sun News, the channel seems to be even more odd than usual. The other day, on the occasion of the death of abortion advocate Dr. Henry Morgentaler, Brian Lilley went into thundering denunciation mode. His cufflinks may even have rattled. First he condemned the CBC's Wendy Mesley and pundit Judy Rebick who had both appeared on CBC, being rueful about how today's young women are unaware of the long struggle for abortion and reproductive rights.
Lilley announced he would not mourn Morgentaler's passing because the man was "responsible for abortion being just another choice. Like dyeing your hair or getting your ears pierced." Oh dude, you can have your hair perfectly coiffed and polish your cufflinks, but you are dead in the water if you address that remark face-to-face to almost any woman, or man. "Dyeing your hair." Like, you'd know?
Another thing that's peculiar is the lineup of channels that makes you wonder, "Who's watching that thing?"
In this neck of the woods, Rogers (yeah, them again) recently moved a few channels around and around. To the irritation of many, BBC World News was moved from channel 32 to channel 194, putting it out of reach for some people. In the BBC's place is Outdoor Life Network. Readers have written to me expressing amazement that Rogers wants to put the BBC's news service out of reach. Well, here's the thing – Rogers owns Outdoor Life. It figures that since it owns it, the channel goes where it decides and, well, if you want the BBC's perspective you're probably a bit weird.
Sure, people do watch Outdoor Life. No need to axe that. But look at other channels and you'll see some that surely don't deserve to exist. Twist TV. What's that? "Twist TV is all about real life with a twist; capturing the experiences of everyday people facing extraordinary situations. The channel's diverse cast of characters are always relatable and often outrageous." Nonsense. It's a dumping ground for such shows as Mob Wives, Four Weddings and Bridezillas. Shaw owns it, so we're probably stuck with it. (Shaw also owns TVtropolis, which is easier to get than BBC World and airs only old sitcoms.) Do we need the NFL Network so easily accessible in Canada, with so much NFL football covered everywhere?
The problems with certain channels are already obvious and attention has been paid. OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network in Canada incurred the wrath of the CRTC for failing to adhere to the channel's original licence commitments, which wasn't to promote Oprah's empire. Bell Media wants to turn Book Television into another movie channel, or some such.
It's beyond peculiar. It's a disgrace. Some channels should be axed, but let's keep Sun News for all that brilliant, eccentric entertainment. Like Ruggies, the sticky device for floor rugs so heavily advertised on Sun News, the channel will never lose its tacky grip.
I'm off for a bit of time. Happy viewing, no matter what channel you like.