Sun News Network closes, capping an epic bad week for the TV news biz

IMG_0794Early this morning Sun News Network ceased operations. A proposed sale of the channel fell through, and so that was that.

Viewers who tune in the channel today are instead seeing a message that states the channel is no longer available. In truth, the conservative-leaning channel, home to Ezra Levant, Michael Coren, Brian Lilley etc., was not being watched by most people anyway. That entire operation has been plagued by distribution problems right from the start. And viewership levels were, to say the least, atrocious. I will say this: at least this operation lasted longer than CityNews Channel, which went kaput after about a year.

(If you want to see the SNN channel’s final moments, I notice it’s been put up on YouTube.)

It’s a sad day for TV in Canada to see so many media jobs go up in smoke — apparently 200 people. In this case I happen to personally know some of the people affected, so it’s a sad day. But this sort of thing has been happening too often lately.

I’m not surprised this closure happened, though, because there were rumors out there for a few weeks now about the end being near. For me, this channel was on borrowed time ever since the entire Sun chain of newspapers was sold to Postmedia — with the Sun TV channel not included as part of the deal.

I know there’s a lot of people on Twitter dancing on this channel’s grave today, because they hated its conservative point of view and the personalities on there. (Pretty shameful comments, if you ask me — but also typical of what we have come to expect from social media lately.)

The reality, though, is Sun News Network did offer something original and different from what these other Canadian channels were doing with their usual boring rerun programming.

SNN’s particular high point came when they covered the now-famous Justin Trudeau-Patrick Brazeau charity boxing match a while ago. That was entertaining stuff. Actually, come to think of it, the fact that this Trudeau-Brazeau fight was their high point probably says it all. (They also ran the “Ford Nation” show, with Rob and Doug Ford, but that was more of a low point because they cancelled it after one airing.) This channel probably would have done better if they were a little more entertaining, and a little less in-your-face with its right-leaning viewpoints and with its programming and hosts. Ezra Levant and Michael Coren, in particular, repel about as many people as they attract.

But really, in the end the main issue was distribution, as not even viewers who wanted to see these people on TV could get easy access to them.

Anyway, that’s that, a perfect exclamation point to a truly awful week for the TV news business.