Business

Former PM aide joins bid for news network

A new, all-news network directed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief spokesman could soon be coming to Canadian living rooms.

A new, all-news network directed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's former chief spokesman could soon be coming to Canadian living rooms.

Quebecor Media Inc. has filed an application for an English-language TV news network with the CRTC, the federal broadcast regulator.

The application comes in concert with Quebecor's appointment of Kory Teneycke — Harper's former communications director — as vice-president of development.

Teneycke, who left the Prime Minister's Office less than a year ago, has been working on contract with Quebecor for months amid persistent reports of the development of a new, right-wing news channel modelled on the highly successful Fox News in the United States. Teneycke had also recently worked for CBC News as a part-time political commentator.

"The one thing that makes Ottawa such an interesting place is there's a never-ending series of rumours being generated," Teneycke said in an interview Wednesday.

"Some of which are true, some of which are false and some of which are partially true. We'll provide clarity on all these matters in due course, but we really don't have anything to say today."

Teneycke has been given oversight of the QMI bureau in Ottawa, which covers parliamentary affairs for the Sun Media chain of newspapers.

A spokesman for the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission confirmed the Quebecor network application was received late last week, and will be open to public and stakeholder comment once the application is determined to be complete and in order.

The public consultations and final ruling on such applications typically take months.

By hiring Teneycke, Quebecor and its president and CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau are following the path of Fox News Channel, whose founding president Roger Ailes is a former communications adviser to Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr.

Fox News was launched to widespread derision in 1996 but has since become the most-watched news network in the United States, surpassing CNN and MSNBC.

Sources familiar with the project say Quebecor has considered its own news channel for almost a year. Teneycke has pitched Peladeau on a concept that would be less traditional and more pugnacious and provocative than what's currently being offered by CBC News Network and CTV's Newsnet.

Liberal Heritage critic Pablo Rodriguez reacted with caution to the proposed network.

"Competition is always welcome. Normally when you have good competition, it's the consumer that benefits," Rodriguez said in an interview.

"But I would be wary of having a channel like Fox News that's driven by ideology."

But New Democrat MP Charlie Angus reacted to Quebecor's bid with guns blazing.

"One of the problems they're going to face is that there is actually an obligation in Canada — unlike the United States — to have some balance [in news reporting]," said Angus.

"Having Kory anywhere near the project kind of blows that obligation out of the water."

Angus said he fears the Conservatives will bend to Quebecor's policy demands "and in return he'll let the Kory Tenecykes treat the service as in-house media for the Conservative machine."

now