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


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.


  • Fireeast

    This tiny public bell is complaining about is probably half the public.

  • junglee

    I don’t care about US ads. Reduce Internet and cellular charges in Canada CRTC

  • Max Power

    The CRTC got this one right. In the case of the Super Bowl, the ads are a part of the show, but for all other programming, they have to have simsub to protect especially our small market Canadian channels.

  • Chris

    Nothing like CTV taking 3-4 mins to uncouple their feed from NBC after the game. All the while showing Masterchef on NBC after the game. Thankfully, it was caught before the awards were handed out.

    I don’t understand why we, as Canadians, can’t have the choice to watch CTV, etc for the Canadian content or NBC, etc and not have parts of shows cut because Bell took over too soon or forget to cut their feed too late.

  • erth

    maybe they should let direct TV into the canadian market and allow them to do what ever they like. then, Bell would change it’s view point.

  • Salinger

    If it worked flawlessly, or if there were significant consequences when it didn’t, I’d agree. However, time and time again, the first minute or two, or worse, the last minute or two of a show are cut off due to ill timed simsub cuts. Occasionally, due to programming changes, entire shows are missed because the Canadian broadcaster (or distributor) doesn’t know or “forgets” that a different show is actually airing on the American channel than was scheduled.

    I think there needs to be consequences for such things. If it happens x number of times, they lose the right to simsub for 6 months. Hitting them in the bottom line might make them more careful.