Bell, NFL Attempt Last Minute ‘Hail Mary’ to Sack Super Bowl Ad Ruling


Bell Media and the NFL filed formal notices of appeal yesterday in court, as both try last ditch attempts to punt the CRTC’s decision of banning Canadian TV ads on U.S. networks here during the Super Bowl, known as simultaneous substitution (sim-sub).

Bell Media owns NFL broadcasting rights in Canada and hopes the Trudeau government will step in and overrule the CRTC before the appeal is heard.

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“Today’s submission is just the latest procedure in an ongoing legal process,” the company said to CBC News yesterday, adding “But there is a growing community of voices highlighting the negative impact of this decision on the Canadian creative and broadcasting industry.”

The CRTC ruled last year Super Bowl sim-subs would be banned in Canada, starting in 2017, which includes the upcoming championship game set to take place on February 5.

Back in late October, the Federal Court of Appeal allowed a previous court appeal upholding the ban, but did not approve a stay of the ruling until the case could be heard in court.

U.S. political leaders have chimed in on the matter, including Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio. In Canada, Liberal MPs Bob Nault and Wayne Easter have also backed Bell by urging the CRTC to overturn its ruling, citing how the decision will cost the Canadian economy tens of millions of dollars.

Support for Bell and the NFL also comes from union Unifor; the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA); the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA); the U.S. Commerce Department; and the U.S. House of Representatives’ Northern Border caucus.

Timing is crucial for Bell Media, as the company looks to secure ad dollars for the Super Bowl, the most watched TV event in Canada (8.26 million viewers) and the USA (115.2 million) last year.

Bell and the NFL want an order to set aside the CRTC ruling, arguing the latter has no jurisdiction to prevent sim-subs under its own regulations, citing it contravenes the Copyright Act.

The NFL accused the CRTC of using legal challenges to slow the court case “in an apparent attempt to run out the clock and sidestep the challenge” while urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to intervene.

The League added it was “confident that the Government of Canada will act reasonably and responsibly before the 2017 Super Bowl to address this arbitrary attempt by the CRTC to disadvantage not only the NFL, but Canadian broadcasters and the Canadian creative community as well.”

A CRTC spokeswoman declined to comment on the case, as it’s before the courts.

What do you think? Do you want to see Canadian ads or U.S. ads during the Super Bowl on CTV?


  • Dale Ryan Leckie

    That’s a tough one…

  • Peter

    I don’t see a point looking at American ads in Canada for products that are sometimes not even available here. US companies don’t even have to pay extra cash to target Canadians. I am against the US TV ads in Canada on Canadian channels.
    Go to the USA if you want to watch Super Bowl with US ads. Super Bowl is not a Canadian tradition anyways.

  • Joe

    I watched the superbowl last year using a PVR so that I could skip the ads. It took me less than 2 hours to watch the program (including the halftime show) when I skipped the ads, compared to 4+ hours if I watch it live as I’ve done in the past. So first off, let’s establish that there are A LOT of ads during the superbowl.

    After doing it that last year, I’ve decided to do it this way forever. I don’t want to waste 2 hours of my life watching ads. So I guess I’ll put the question to everyone who plans to watch it live: would you rather watch the original U.S. ads which might be irrelevant to us (insurance, health care, telecom ads, etc.) or would you rather let Bell make millions selling Canadian-based ads for you?

  • Ian

    Why they don’t have the regular broadcast with Canadian ads on regular TV and then offer the American broadcast with the American ads on PPV boggles my mind. That way those who want to American ads still get them and Bell still get some revenue.

    I understand that the PPV option would eat into the normal viewership and thus the ad revenue it pulls in, but isn’t that better than no revenue at all?

  • RickysCV

    I love the US ads; always have. Most are great entertainment. Companies spend big bucks putting out hilarious ads for the Superbowl. 95% of the Canadian ads are old, stale, boring and spammy. I as well, pretty much tape everything; 30-45 minutes after it’s started allows me to watch ‘almost live’ and I can zip through all the ads and end up with the same finish time as live on a Canadian provider. I agree with Ian; put Canadian ads on Canadian providers and leave the US ads on the American stations.

  • Oldtimer

    Work for Bell or Rogers?

  • Peter

    Hehe. No, I don’t.

  • Zing

    USA ads are waaaay better! Bell is always trying to suck every penny.

  • Brenda

    I don’t watch NFL or cable, but from what I understand about this, most Canadians want to watch the US Superbowl ads because they’re part of the spectacle. If they’re blocked in Canada, Canadians don’t get to see these ads-as-entertainment which get a great deal of coverage in the US media.

    The CRTC should side with Canadian viewers and not with media conglomerates, unions, politicians, or anyone else who has something to gain by reversing the decision. We should be applauding the CRTC. And the Canadian government should not interfere.

  • Riley Freeman

    they should show the canadian ads on the canadian networks and the american ads on the american networks. This way the choice is up to US as to what we want to watch.

    I prefer to watch the american ads

  • Riley Freeman

    terrible. i wouldnt pay to watch the ads.. Air the ads on canadian networks and leave the U.S. networks with the U.S. ads

  • Riley Freeman

    so after tweeting to the CRTC that they should just air us ads on us stations and canadian ads on canadian stations, i got a response today that thats what will happen