Some of the best commercials make their debut during the Super Bowl—but Canadians have long known these ads don’t appear on TV sets in Canada. Some have been confused as to why this happens and the onus falls on TV broadcasters. But a recent exchange of misinformation by the @RogersHelps Twitter account caused CRTC chairman Jean-Pierre Blais to write a letter to the company to set the record straight.
It all started during the NFC final from over a week ago, when the San Francisco 49ers took on the Seattle Seahawks. One customer asked Rogers why CTV commercials were showing on their TV despite watching the FOX network. The @RogersHelps account incorrectly noted “It’s due to the CRTC rules so no way to watch the Fox feed sorry.”
@AmeriCanadian2 It’s due to the CRTC rules so no way to watch the Fox feed sorry. ^map
— RogersHelps (@RogersHelps) January 20, 2014
Blais noticed this—and wrote a letter five days later directed to Keith Pelley, Rogers Media President and David Purdy, Senior VP of Content, sharing how he was “dismayed to read the following Twitter exchange” and didn’t hold back in expressing his frustration, as noted by Canada.com, which acquired a copy of the letter:
As you are aware, there are a number of misconceptions and a certain frustration among Canadian television viewers regarding simultaneous substitution. These are often expressed at this time of year—specifically, during the NFL playoffs and following the broadcast of the Super Bowl game.
Canadian broadcasters enjoy simultaneous substitution since it allows them to protect the rights of the programs they have acquired for broadcast in our country. It provides local stations with revenues to maintain their operations and offer local and international programming to their audiences. In addition, simultaneous substitution contributes to the Canadian economy through the jobs created by broadcasters and advertisers, as well as the taxes paid by these companies and their employees.
He continued to mention how “the time has come for broadcasters and distributors to start speaking up on simultaneous substitution rather than simply passing blame onto the CRTC.” Blais goes on to ask Rogers to “remind” its staff that these signal switches are made by broadcasters and not the CRTC:
In an effort to ensure Canadians do not receive contradictory information from the CRTC and Rogers, it would be appreciated if you could remind your customer service representatives that broadcasters choose whether to substitute signals and that both the broadcaster and the distributor are responsible for the quality of the substitution.I would also ask you to provide a report outlining the training your customer service representatives receive on this issue, as well as copies of fact sheets or other materials at their disposal.
Rogers spokesperson Patricia Trott told The Globe and Mail the company is “reviewing its processes” to ensure accurate information reaches customers about simultaneous substitutions.
“Simsubs allow for the carriage of U.S. signals in Canada which are popular with our customers while at the same time preserving the Canadian rights market and the health of the Canadian broadcasting system,”
Despite some seeing signal substitutions as an inconvenience to viewing the latest big budget commercials during the Super Bowl locally, the CRTC emphasizes its major benefits: Rights of broadcasters are protected, ad revenue is generated in Canada, local broadcasting is promoted and overall it’s good for the Canadian economy.
What do you think about simultaneous substitutions by Canadian broadcasters?