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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