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CRTC Denies Bell Closed Door Meetings Over ‘Simsub’ Super Bowl Ads

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Last week, the CRTC announced it would ban simsubs (simultaneous substitutions) by Canadian broadcasters when it comes to Super Bowl ads, starting in 2017. This of course would impact Bell Media since it generates advertising revenues from its exclusive rights to the game in Canada.

Michael Geist has acquired correspondence between Bell and CRTC which reveals the latter denying the former private closed door meetings over simsubs.

Here’s part of what Bell wrote to the CRTC, explaining how banning simsubs would have “negative impacts to advertisers, Canadian content and Bell Media,” making it more important over “some viewers” who don’t get to watch American Super Bowl ads here:

While I may often disagree with CRTC rulings, I always respect that the Commission has to take the broader public interest into account. In this case however, I really do believe the negative impacts to advertisers, Canadian content and Bell Media significantly outweigh the convenience to some viewers of being able to watch American ads within the broadcast itself.

I would appreciate any opportunity to further discuss this issue with each or all of you.

Below is a snippet of what Christianne Laizner, Senior General Counsel of the CRTC had to say, rejecting closed door meetings with Bell as it would be “inappropriate” since the simsub decision is based on a public process:

I would note that the decision in question was reached following an extensive public proceeding which examined many options with respect to simultaneous substitution including its complete elimination. The Commission considered all of the evidence and submissions put before it, in that public proceeding. I would further note, as indicated in the Commission’s decision, there will be further public process to implement the Commission’s decision via regulation. As such, the implementation of this decision is still before the Commission. In addition, the Commission has not yet issued its decisions on the many other outstanding issues from the public proceeding.

In light of the above, it would be inappropriate for you to hold private meetings with Commissioners either individually or collectively to discuss your views on this decision. It would be unfair to other parties to the public proceeding for Commissioners to hold off the record conversations with one party with a view to altering a decision already taken.

Looks like the CRTC is going to standing its ground on simsubs at this point. Starting in 2017, U.S. Super Bowl ads are set to air in Canada in their entirety, unless something changes.

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