Thursday, September 16, 2010

You can’t blame Kory for being Kory

It was fitting that it was on Twitter that news of Kory Teneycke’s resignation from Quebecor and Sun TV spread like wildfire Wednesday morning, and that the deletion/suspension of his Twitter account was the early-warning signal that something was amis. Say what you well about Kory, he certainly embraced social media with gusto, and it played no small part in his downfall.

His departure was fairly cryptic, except for the statement of the obvious: for various reasons, he had becoming a lightning-rod for criticism that was distracting from what the company was trying to accomplish. True enough, certainly.

However, I’m not going to blame Kory for being Kory. He is now what he was before: a fierce C/conservative partisan attack dog. Like many partisans in any camp, he is eager to run a strong offence and go hard after anyone that speaks or causes ill to his side. Quebecor Kory was the same as PMO Kory, and no one should have legitimately expected otherwise.

Really, while more details of the Avaaz petition and Kory's possible involvement may be still to come, I don’t place fault with Kory. If I question anyone’s judgement, it’s that of Pierre Karl Peladeau and Quebecor. Kory was a known-quantity when they hired him to lead their Sun TV venture. They had to know what they were getting. If he became a liability that had to be cut loose (and he had), it speaks as much, if not more, to their judgement than it does to his.

Perhaps they felt they would get a kinder, gentler Kory. Perhaps they felt his connections in government would outweigh the hard edge of his public relations style. In the end, clearly they gambled wrong. His abrasiveness did make him a lighting rod for criticism – some of it fair, much of it not. And while stirring the pot is useful to a point (certainly he earned them tons of free media), pass the point and it just becomes bad for business. And at the end of the day, this is about business.

And Kory’s departure will, I believe, be good for business. But don’t expect a change in ideology from the new venture – the rightward bent is a business decision that didn’t begin and end with Kory. And with a former Brian Mulroney confidante as his replacement in Luc Lavoie, certainly the network’s C/conservative pedigree isn’t in doubt. But Kory’s departure will be hailed as a victory by the left. It will deflate much of the energy and the anger, and the issue will fade from consciousness. Lavoie won’t be getting into Twitter wars with Margaret Atwood.

But he will be quietly and impressively lobbying in the corridors of power, ensuring Sun TV gets the license it needs, brings more talent on board (should be easier with the fires died down) and comes to the airwaves on schedule. Sun TV is coming to your televisions, and nothing will change that.

And perhaps, in the end, Sun TV will be judged by the quality of its on-air product and talent, and not by the abrasiveness of an over-eager executive. And that’s how it should be.

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