First up are the claims that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is exerting pressure on CRTC chairman Konrad von Finckenstein to approve a mandatory-distribution license for Sun TV.
On CBC's Power and Politics, Ricken Patel was asked if he had proof that such pressure was being exerted.
He sputtered and stuttered his response.
"No, of course we don't have legal proof," Patel admitted.
And there's good reason for this: because no pressure seems to be present.
In a recent letter to the Globe and Mail, von Finckenstein refuted the best evidence that Patel could offer -- a column by Lawrence Martin:
"I read with consternation Lawrence Martin's column "Is Stephen Harper Set To Move Against The CRTC?" (Aug 19) calling into question the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's independence as a regulatory body. The column stems from Quebecor Media's application to launch a TV news service called Sun TV News.Patel and Avaaz have no "legal proof" that any such pressure is being exerted because it doesn't seem to be present at all.
I would like to categorically state that no one at any level of government has approached me about the Sun TV application, the appointment of the CRTC's vice-chair of broadcasting, or my own mandate.
Quebecor's application is being treated according to the CRTC's well-established processes. The application was published on Sept. 1 for comment, and a public hearing will be held in Gatineau, PQ, starting on Nov 19. The CRTC will then make a decision on the basis of the evidence on the public record."
So the lack of pressure has already been established. But that's only for starters.
The CRTC website puts the lie to Avaaz's claim that Sun TV is seeking mandatory access to cable and satellite fees:
"The applicant stated that it was not seeking mandatory basic distribution, but only to be made available on cable and satellite distribution undertakings, allowing the public to have access to Sun TV News without any obligation to choose it."This particular detail demonstrates the Avaaz petition to be counter-factual. As such, Quebecor is perfectly entitled to seek legal remedy on this matter.
For Patel, however, it seems that these facts simply don't matter. Instead, he wants to simply repeat his vacuous rhetoric and try to make the issue about the cost of Quebecor's lawyers.
"This is how big corporate power tries to silence people's voices, with smear campaigns and expensive lawyers," Patel complained. "Canadians are deeply worried about the poisonous politics of the Sun media empire and will keep fighting their plan to force cable companies to give them access to our cable fees."
Patel either hasn't read the information regarding the application, available on the CRTC website since September 1, or he's underestimating the intelligence of Canadians and outright lying to them.
Fortunately, however, public consultations on Sun TV will be starting fairly soon. Ricken Patel, as a Canadian citizen, will have the option to participate.
However, he'll need to turn up with better material than "I disagree with Sun TV politically" or "Fox News is bad". Whether or not he's actually capable of better has yet to be seen.