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Friday, April 29, 2011

Sun News struggles with numbers and truth

Ezra Levant — The Source
The Sun Media story claimed, and we are using claimed in its correct sense, that the new Sun News network has been on roll. I saw the story by Terry Davidson in The London Free Press. My local paper obediently carried the filler supplied by Sun Media and QMI.

The story was headlined New network buoyed by viewer stats. It went on to say, "Around 37,000 viewers across Canada tuned in to watch the news channel when it launched April 18 . . . " No one disputes that number. The problem is that today is April 29, not April 18, and the numbers have plummeted with each passing day.

The London Free Press tells us The Caldwell Account, hosted by Theo Caldwell, had 20,000 views coming out of the starting gate. What The Free Press doesn't say is that Theo wilted fast. Marketing Mag Canada reports:

"Sun News commentator Theo Caldwell was drawing 11,000 viewers at 7 p.m. last Friday, CBC News Network had an audience of 263,000 viewers across Canada. [Even the American network] CNN’s estimated audience in Canada at 7 p.m. on Friday was 38,000 viewers."

The numbers in the Free Press story are old news. But then some of the stunts being pulled by the Sun News network to attract viewers are pretty stale. Ezra Levant, host of The Source, in a blatant attempt to create controversy, broadcast the infamous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that sparked riots around the world.

Despite the Islamic faith's prohibition against any depiction of Muhammad, these cartoons were published in a Danish newspaper in 2005. The New York Times reported "at least 200 died and many more were injured."

This did not stop Levant from displaying the cartoons on The Source as part of  free speech segment. This is not the first time Levant has displayed the cartoons. He first published them years ago in the The Western Standard. The topic was red hot then and he succeeded in stirring up the correct amount of controversy.

The Vancouver Sun spoke with Chris Waddell, director of the school of journalism at Carleton University, who said it's hard to understand why it's important. What can you say? It's recycling a very old story.

A week after launch, Levant’s show was down to 19,000 viewers. This is a big drop from the 40,000 viewers The Free Press story linked to Levant's show.

Will Sun News succeed? It is too early to tell. Personally, I'm not pulling for them.

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