Quebecor gets go-ahead for Sun TV News channel

Fri Nov 26, 2010 2:53pm EST
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's broadcast regulator has granted Quebecor's Sun TV News a five-year national license after the applicant dropped a request for special treatment from cable and satellite companies.

The all-news channel faced stiff opposition from critics who fear it will replicate the partisan platform of News Corp's Fox News in the United States.

The channel, which is expected to launch early next year, would add to "the plurality of editorial voices in local and national markets", the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said in its ruling on Friday.

Quebecor subsidiaries TVA Group and Sun Media Corp had initially sought a license that would force cable and satellite providers to carry the channel. They later lessened that demand to one that guaranteed some form of access for up to three years, but also withdraw that request.

In each case, the company was seeking a wider level of exposure for its programing to compete with established all-news channels from the public broadcaster, CBC, and from CTV, which is being bought by telecom giant BCE Inc.

"Today marks the dawn of a new era for Canadian news media," Quebecor Chief Executive Pierre Karl Peladeau said.

Sun TV News will "aim to challenge conventional wisdom and offer Canadians a new choice and a new voice on TV," he added.

Quebecor owns the right-leaning Sun chain of tabloid newspapers, including the Toronto Sun. In French-speaking Quebec, it owns the Journal de Montreal daily newspaper, TVA television and the LCN all-news channel.

A former spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper resigned as head of the Sun TV News project in September amid controversy over his ties to the Conservative government and allegations he knew that a petition against the Sun channel had been tampered with.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Rob Wilson)