CRTC Super Bowl Decision Violates NAFTA Says NFL

The battle between the NFL and Bell against the CRTC’s decision to ban simultaneous substitutions during the Super Bowl continues. Yesterday, the league testified at the U.S. Department of Commerce, saying the CRTC decision violates NAFTA, reports The Financial Post.

NFL senior vice president of public policy, Jocelyn Moore, testified “This unexpected and arbitrary decision denies the NFL the ability to generate revenue from its Canadian copyright licence in the Super Bowl in the same ways as Canadian owners of copyright in other programs.”

She further added “NAFTA guarantees that U.S. copyright-owners will be treated no less favourably than their Canadian counterparts. … as such, Canada’s action is inconsistent with NAFTA’s national treatment requirement.”

The testimony took place the same day the United States set off its plan to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. The NFL was one of 35 parties testifying in a public hearing on significant trade deficits, part of President Trump’s plan to “renegotiate harmful trade deals and more effectively deter and punish trade abuses when they occur.”

Moore stated “Canada’s recent actions – directed at the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl alone – resulted in an immediate, direct and dramatic drop in audience for the NFL’s exclusive rights-holder in Canada in February 2017.”

Bell said the CRTC decision caused their Super Bowl ratings to plunge 39% compared to last year.

By banning simultaneous substitution for the Super Bowl, Canadians were able to watch U.S. commercials in their entirety during the game, for the first time, without seeing Canadian ads swapped over instead. Bell Media tried to leverage contests on their Canadian TV feeds to encourage people to watch instead of tuning into U.S. stations.

The company also laid partial blame on their Super Bowl losses for over 24 media job cuts back in January. As for Super Bowl losses, Bell Media said it lost an estimated $11 million in Q1 due to the CRTC decision.

Bell Media and the NFL are still fighting the decision in Federal court to reverse the CRTC decision, and could head to court by this fall.


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  • Aleks Oniszczak

    They’re right, the CRTC is being inconsistent. I don’t know why the CRTC doesn’t ban simultaneous substitutions altogether. Why just for the Super Bowl?

  • NOHoldsBar

    The last few months Saturday Night Live’s US feed was pre-empted with the Canadian feed. We were also stuck with Canadian commercials when watching the Oscars. This shows how inconsistent the CRTC is.

    Besides. If you’re paying for time shifting US channels, you should also be allowed to see everything all the time. Those who live in border towns will be influenced by US advertisers. So the Canadian revenue loss is exaggerated.

    It’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out.

  • FragilityG4

    They shouldn’t be banned. How else would the cable companies make up their ROI? If they imposed a ban on all simultaneous substitutions they would never pick up American programming again because there’s no money to be made. In the end we suffer.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Canadian cable companies made money while providing US channels for many years before simultaneous substitution were thought of. So why can’t they do it again?

  • FragilityG4

    I don’t know the specifics on the past, but I’m pretty sure that JC Penny and Dicks Sporting Goods are not going to pay Rogers and Bell for advertising space since less than 1% of Canadian viewers will shop at their respective stores.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    I’m pretty sure Bell and Rogers will do just fine without being paid by JC Penny and Dicks. They have provided US channels without that extra money before and they can do It again.

  • FragilityG4

    And that extra revenue they love to show shareholders, their most important people, will be made up by passing it on to the consumer. Right now cable companies are losing subscribers all the time– why give them more of a reason to raise prices??

  • Kodi User Now

    You are right. We were early adopters of HD when it was first introduced in Canada. All of our HD shows had the original American ads in them. Why the change now?

  • Sam

    I would estimate that Bell will lose even when they win.
    IF Bell wins and Canadian commercial comes back to the Super Bowl, people will just watch American channels and Canadian advertiser will learn to pay Bell less.
    IF Bell loses, …. well they lose.
    The NFL can consider making allowance, time slot wise, for both American and local commercials for everywhere, not just for Canadian.

  • Aleks Oniszczak

    Lol, I don’t think they have needed any reasons to raise prices before – they just do. No matter what.

  • FragilityG4

    Not to the frequency we are seeing these days.

  • mcfilmmakers

    How do ee suffer if we have access to the american channels??? We dont suffer. Itll encourage ctv and global to produce original content for once while we can watch the american shows on the american channels.

    Why wiuld you want to pay for access thw abc and nbc when their shows are on ctv and global? Its redundant and stupid.

    Ban subbing and we all win. More shows, less reproduction.

  • FragilityG4

    Because either Rogers and Bell will stop supplying those American channels or they will institute a surcharge for you to view them. Let the corporations pay for them, allow subbing… we’re not missing anything anyway. There’re commercials.

  • erth

    buy an antenna. you know it is free….

  • erth

    you bring up a good point. canada should open the markets up and let in all american companies….

  • FragilityG4

    It won’t get all the American channels. I dropped cable two years ago so I really don’t care at the end of the day because it won’t affect me. Having said that there are still plenty of people on cable and in the interest of them not having to incur even more price hikes, subbing should remain.

  • mcfilmmakers

    Antenna gets you abc, nbc, cbs, fox and BOTH PBS stations (you pay extra for the second). Thats all of em for free. I still dont get the point youre making at all.

    CTV and Global are rehashes of the above stations. They are redundant BECAUSE of subbing.

    Remove subbing and competition increases to keep eyes on canadian channels.

    If CTV and Global go bankrupt, good riddance because theyre redudany anyway.


  • mcfilmmakers

    They supply those channels despite paying to have the same shows ont heir own networks and despite those channels being direct competitin because they are added value. They wont stop supplying the channels because theyd lose a big chunk of their subscribers.

    They already institute a surcharge to view them in HD anyway so again, the threats empty.

  • FragilityG4

    I don’t know why you want American commercials so much!

  • FragilityG4

    Why do you want American commercials so much?

  • Rich Baker

    Not that I want any commercials but the amount of time and money put into the US commercials for Super Bowl is incredible and in turn you get entertained. Canadian commercials are the same as if you were watching the 6:00 news.

  • FragilityG4

    That’s one day a year and within minutes they’re on YouTube. Hardly seems worth a discussion.