Sun News Network to end its OTA TV broadcasts. Maybe.


Dear Minister Moore,

On May 23 of this year I posted an entry to this here blog about Sun News’ failure to air CRTC-mandated Digital Television (DTV) transition Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on television.  Michael Geist then retweeted my tweet about the post, resulting in Dude Where’s My TV? receiving its highest number of one-day visitors ever.  The next day I filed a compliant with the CRTC over the matter (Sun not airing DTV PSAs, not the Geist RT).

On June 23, 2011, I received a response from Quebecor, owner of Sun News Network.

The DTV PSAs were not mentioned at all in the letter, only stating that “the digital transition might affect CKXT-TV analog transmitters in Toronto and Hamilton” and that “this issue is currently being discussed with the Commission”.

I was about to write the CRTC back to advise that I was still waiting for Sun to start airing DTV PSAs when @CoryMichaels68 Cced me on a tweet mentioning that he had just seen a Sun News DTV transition PSA.  According to Cory, the PSA included a link to Sun News’ DTV transition (one page) web site,

The same day, I received word from Simon Doyle of The Wire Report that its Quarterly Briefing all about the Canadian Digital Transition was online.

BTW, this briefing by The Wire Report is hands down the best feature that I’ve read on the transition to date. Check it out here.  I could write a dozen blog posts about the valuable information that Doyle and his team have included in the report.

In terms of Sun News, the briefing included a statement from Serge Sasseville, VP of corporate and institutional affairs at Quebecor,  advising that “CKXT-TV, is not required to air the announcements because the over-the-air signal for the channel will cease on Sept. 1”.  (Dude TV Note: This is not true. If Sun does stop over-the-air (OTA) TV broadcasts it still must air Signal Loss Notices (SLNs) on TV).

Finally, some straight talk from the straight talkin’ Sun News Network!

Sasseville also advised that Sun would “inform viewers of the over-the-air station that, as of Aug. 31, the signal will cease”.  It seems to me that television PSAs would be the best way to reach these viewers, though perhaps Sasseville had other plans (door knocking? flyers? Town Criers?).

At any rate, it sounds like the PSAs are now airing on Sun News (as of July 11, 2011 according to a Quebecor letter addressed to Namir Anani, CRTC Associate Executive Director, Policy Development & Research, that was  forwarded to me by the CRTC).

I’ve yet to see one but I’m planning to resume my 24 hour VHS logger record regime.

My hope is that the Sun News television PSA is a vast improvement over the Sun News DTV transition web page. The Sun News DTV website has Zero News about changes to its own OTA signal(s).

How are OTA Sun News television viewers to prepare if they aren’t given any information?

How will they be able to take steps to ensure that they will continue to have access to straight talk from the self-proclaimed black sheep of Canadian television (hey, wasn’t that TQS’ claim to fame)?

The need for information regarding Quebecor’s OTA plans for the Sun News Network is even more important now that new word has starting to spread on Facebook that Quebecor plans to continue airing Sun News over-the-air in cities like London, Ontario. Huh? I thought the “over-the-air signal for the channel will cease on Sept. 1”?  Will Sun News continue elsewhere OTA?

So many questions. So little time.


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5 Responses to Sun News Network to end its OTA TV broadcasts. Maybe.

  1. Serge says:

    The real question is: how is it that Sun News gets to transmit over the air using public spectrum, which is supposed to be reserved for stations providing a local service? Does Québecor get to treat its over-the-air licence like private property, and do whatever it wants with it? It would seem that its local Toronto station, the former Toronto One, ceased serve a long time ago. And the CRTC has never said a thing about it.

  2. I hear that carriage on Rogers is the crux of the issue. It is only on Rogers in certain markets by virtue of its OTA presence in Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, and London. If Sun News OTA (a.k.a CKXT) shut down, they’d lose access to millions of Rogers homes, not just the OTA-only homes.

  3. I’ve always expected that carriage on Rogers in Toronto and Ottawa would make or break the continued OTA broadcasts. I expect that Quebecor is trying to find a way to keep their OTA transmitters up at minimal cost since negotiations with Rogers (launching their own all news channel in Toronto this fall) aren’t going well.

  4. Nat says:

    I am not a fan of Sun tv however in a democracy you hear all sides of the debate and I miss hearing the outrageous sometimes extreme arguments by the Sun Media programs. The argument on OTA are now one-sided.

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