OTTAWA - The controversy over a proposed new TV network that opponents dubbed ''Fox News North'' has taken down a top player in the deal.

Kory Teneycke has resigned as vice-president of development at Quebecor Media and head of the Sun newspaper group's Ottawa bureau, citing the often-bitter battle over the birth of Sun TV news.

''Over the summer, this controversy has gotten out of hand,'' he told a news conference Wednesday. ''It has morphed from one of market differentiation to something more vicious and vitriolic and yes, at times, I have contributed to the debasing of that debate myself.''

He said the angry debate ''led to a number of serious accusations and conspiracy theories that have been repeated so often they have taken on the aura of fact.''

Luc Lavoie, a longtime spokesman for former prime minister Brian Mulroney, will take over from Teneycke.

The new network has been under fire for months. Critics complained that Sun TV is seeking a ''must-carry'' licence designation, which would force it on viewers. Others spoke of close ties to America's Fox News, while some hinted of political interference in the regulator's consideration of the Sun bid for a broadcast licence.

Teneycke said part of the problem was his jump into journalism fresh from the Prime Minister's Office.

''My past political involvement and close association with this government have led to me being a central figure in most of these accusations, regardless of their lack of merit.

''The perception problems associated with such a quick move from active politics to overseeing a bureau covering the very government you just worked for are obvious.''

With all of this baggage weighing on him and the TV bid, he said he had to resign.

Ricken Patel of Avaaz, an international advocacy group which strongly opposed Teneycke and the TV proposal, welcomed the departure.

''The resignation of Prime Minister Harper's former spin doctor from the leadership of one of Canada's most-powerful news organizations is a battle won in a longer fight against crony-media in Canada,'' Patel said in a statement.

Quebecor chief Pierre Karl Peladeau issued a statement thanking Teneycke "for the excellent work he has performed for our company, and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours."

Teneycke said he still believes in the Sun TV project as a way of offering Canadians new outlooks.

The new network proposes to broadcast a mix of hard news and opinion and Teneycke said a variety of voices on the air can only be good for the country.