Quebecor has asked the federal broadcast regulator to oblige cable and satellite networks to make its proposed all-news channel Sun TV News available to subscribers if the channel is approved.  

According to its licence application to the CRTC, the media company wants the regulator to make it mandatory for cable and satellite networks to provide access to the channel "for a maximum period of three years to effectively expose and promote its programming to viewers across Canada."  

That does not mean it wants cable and satellite companies to be forced to carry the new channel, Quebecor said, just to give viewers the choice to add it to their TV package — without any obligation to do so.

"We are interested in not being locked out of the market, but we are interested in consumer choice," said Kory Teneycke, vice-president in charge of developing Sun TV News. "We don't want to force anyone to have to take the channel."

Teneycke, the former communications director for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, made the comments Wednesday as the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission said it would review the Sun TV News broadcast licence application at a Nov. 19 hearing.

Quebecor appears to have abandoned its effort to gain a first-tier designation for the new channel, which would guarantee Sun TV News a place among the default channels for cable subscribers.

Instead, it has applied for a licence to broadcast as a Category 2 specialty television channel but has sought an exception to the usual broadcasting policy for Category 2 channels by requesting the mandatory access provision.

Sun TV News will be a joint initiative of Quebecor subsidiaries, including TVA Group and Sun Media.

The new network bills itself as a channel for "hard news and straight talk" and aspires to be an alternative to existing networks.