I'm a little surprised no one was interested in buying the OTA stations. I still think Toronto has room for another station, it's just a matter of someone doing it right.
I would also be surprised if no one was interested in taking over the CKXT OTA licence. I know the Brandon MB station ceased operations, and CHCH Hamilton was sold for pocket change. But supposedly the advertising market has picked up since then, and Toronto is the largest market in the country. And there is also the possibility that OTA stations may soon be allowed to seek fees from BDUs. Even if there was only one potential buyer who would pay only a dollar, Quebecor gains absolutely nothing by refusing to sell and instead turning in the licence to the CRTC, who I assume could then simply re-issue it.
But then, who knows if Quebecor was being honest in the letter to the CRTC stating they were going to turn in the licence, when they had also applied to increase the post-transitional power of their transmitters. At the end of the Globe & Mail story, it says Quebecor refused to comment. They've been repeatedly disingenuous over the last couple of years about matters concerning Sun News. And if it hasn't all been phoney posturing, then someone in charge there is really clueless and has lacked a basic understanding of things like the differences between an OTA broadcasting licence and a licence for a cable news channel.
And who knows if Quebecor wanted to sell the CKXT license to someone else. Had they done so, that new owner gets the cable analog TV allotment leaving Sun News in the digital range only. Quebecor obviously wants the lower channel allotment. Now the cable BDUs need to stick it to them and free up the space...
I only watch Sun News OTA. There are much better news channels to watch from a BDU. When watching OTA, I often flip between CH, Sun and any other news program that is on.
I'm a little surprised no one was interested in buying the OTA stations.
The problem is, who? Rogers, Bell and Shaw already own Toronto stations and those are the major players that might be interested. CRTC regulation prevent them from owning a second Toronto station so they are not in the running. There may be smaller players that would to get back into the Toronto market but look at recent history. The greater GTA landscape is littered with failed broadcasters such as Global, CHUM, Toronto One, CITY, CH, etc. Some of those entities still exist but only after being absorbed by BDUs or emerging as completely different entities after bankruptcy.
Surprisingly enough, approximately 8% of Sun News viewers watch it OTA according to a poll currently being conducted by Sun News on their page on the world's most popular social networking website. 8% is significant considering the fact that it is only available OTA in Toronto, Hamilton, London and Ottawa!.
The current results as of this moment are as follows:
According to poll comments, most people answering "Other" are on Eastlink which they did not list as an option.
I'm confused by how they got those numbers since it equals well over 100%
Having said that in addition to those to answer OTA you could also, in a sense, include those watching on Cogeco and Rogers for that since they don't have a carriage deal with the cable network yet carry the OTA channel since it's in their local market.
Perhaps even a wee bit of the Shaw percentage as well since Shaw has a small footprint in Hamilton so they're likely carrying the OTA channel on basic.
... The greater GTA landscape is littered with failed broadcasters ...
But all of that was before the possibility existed of OTA stations maybe being able to get fees for carriage from BDUs.
And with or without that, it would only take one small player who wanted to take a chance, in a similar manner to Channel Zero with CHCH. It seems as though everyone and his brother are applying and getting approved for new specialty channel licences, and you'd think one of them might instead jump at the chance to get the mandatory carriage on cable that comes with an OTA station. It wouldn't necessarily have to be someone trying to beat CTV and Global in the ratings and outbidding them for American network shows. It could be someone running a cheap operation.
I agree to a point. OTOH, we don't know what Quebecor is asking for SunTV or even if they want to sell. An independent broadcaster may be better off just starting from scratch instead of dealing with Quebecor or taking on 3 existing, money losing OTA transmitters.
Quebecor was always planning on shutting down SunTV. They stated so in the CRTC application for Sun News. They effectively did so when the replaced the SunTV schedule with Sun News programming. Not sure why they left SunTV on air but I would guess it was looked upon as a transitional period while CAT2 carriage agreements were being negotiated.