Fair warning. This column may contain frightening scenes unsuitable for some readers.
You'll have heard about the 1 per cent. Of course you have. The filthy-rich people who pay little tax and recently lost the election in the USA. But, as some might speculate, remain solidly in power in Canada.
That 1 per cent, yes. Well, allow me to introduce the 0.1 per cent. That would be Sun News, which has roughly 0.1 per cent of Canadian viewers.
This situation is, of course, an abiding insult to Sun News and all that sail in her merry ship where they sing sea shanties all day and night about the awfulness of Canada, Cuba, the CBC and the NDP. Or, turning their attention to the U.S. election, as they did recently, beating relentlessly on the drum of "the Benghazi attack" or Michael Coren telling the story of "Obama's connections to Islam."
While Sun News is stuck with a mere 0.1 per cent, the rascals at the tax-payer-funded CBC News Network draw 1.4 per cent of viewers, CTV News Channel takes 0.8 per cent and the lily-livered moaning liberals of CNN have about 0.9 per cent. Why, it's enough to make Ezra Levant cry, obviously, and that's not easily done. Unless you're talking about Alberta oil or such. Things might change, though. Oh, yes.
It has been revealed that the owners of Sun News have put in for mandatory carriage on basic cable in Canada. The elusive, lucrative 9(1)(h) category, as it is called by CRTC wonks. What it means for us is that if you purchase a basic cable package, Sun News would be part of it, whether you bloody well like it or not.
Back when Sun News was merely under construction, its owners declined to apply for a "mandatory-access" category, a strategy that, it was thought, would hasten it into existence. Not being forced on you, see. Now the application is in for straight mandatory status, and in due course, the CRTC says, there will be a public notice and an opportunity for all and sundry to let their views be known.
In that circumstance, what can be said? Sun News would like to be shoved down our throats, goes one line of thought. This thing can't survive if it isn't given preferential treatment. After all, we already have a Canadian Comedy Network.
But, isn't Sun News anti-mandatory on everything? Watching Sun News doesn't bring many surprises; you're more likely to get variations on a theme watching the Fireplace Channel. So, mere minutes spent watching its continuing hilarity confirm that it's against folks being obliged to do anything they don't wanna do. Like, you'd think, pay for a TV channel they don't want to watch. On the day Sun News went on the air, Levant declared, "We're talking about truth and freedom. If you love freedom like I do, it's a pretty happy day." Well, sunshine, "freedom," also means freedom from not having to pay for your channel.
Now me, I'm against the whole idea of "bundling" channels together and obliging people to pay for those they have no interest in. If you want to put a channel on TV, go ahead, and it can sink or swim according to the public's interest. I don't think money should go to CBC NN or the W channel just because you have to pay for them in order to watch another channel in the same package. I would have hoped the freedom-loving Sun News felt the same way.
Mind you, there is the matter of the glacial growth in the viewership of Sun News. I do my best for it. About every 90 days, I write about the darn thing just to give it a boost. And when I'm watching at home, I always have the two cats beside me, just in case some ratings measurements include three critters instead of one. Still, growth is glacial, even with all those Sun newspapers backing it like it was the only TV channel in existence. Some tens of thousands people are paying attention and that's not enough, apparently. Hence the new move to have it shoved down your throat.
In its short existence, Sun News has become mildly notorious for a few things. Levant wielding a chainsaw on-air to get your attention. Krista Erickson being ostentatiously rude to dancer Margie Gillis. That citizenship ceremony featuring bogus new citizens. It's also notorious for attacking the CBC.
Sun Media pundit Brian Lilley has written a book called CBC Exposed. (It's never in stock on Amazon, and you can't get it in any form at Chapters Indigo. So I haven't read it.) It has a peculiar cover. A comely woman is pictured, pantless or skirtless, depending on your view. She wears a jacket, tiny black underwear and stockings, those stay-up things that excite some fellas, presumably CBC haters in particular. The woman has many $100 and $50 bills protruding from her underwear and stockings. You don't need to be Jacques Derrida to know this is supposed to be the CBC as a streetwalker or stripper trawling for your dollars.
Excuse me and all, but isn't the Sun News bid for mandatory carriage a preposterously transparent attempt to get money from TV viewers who don't want to watch it? Who is now trawling for dollars to be stuffed into its underwear? When this all goes public in the CRTC process, you too can have your say. Keep it clean. Stay away from talk of hookers and strippers, I'd advise.
And isn't it good that I warned you at the start of this column? Levant and Coren in the context of things shoved down your throat. TV channels as streetwalkers, money protruding from tiny underwear. Frightening scenes, as I said.