Bell, NFL Call for CRTC to Suspend Sim-Sub Ban for 2018 Super Bowl

Bell and the NFL again are lobbying the CRTC to end its sim sub ban for the Super Bowl.

In a press release, Bell says it is supported by the national union Unifor, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) and the Canadian Media Directors’ Council (CMDC), to again ask the CRTC to “suspend its simultaneous substitution ban for Super Bowl LII in 2018 and permanently rescind the ban going forward.”

“There are no benefits to Canadians when our broadcast regulator favours US advertising, but there have been significant negative economic and cultural impacts in our country resulting directly from the CRTC’s decision,” said Mirko Bibic, Bell’s Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer and Executive VP, Corporate Development, in a statement.

“The damage is being felt across the Canadian creative, cultural and broadcasting communities, including drastic reductions in Super Bowl audiences and revenues at CTV. The reality of the impact is reflected in calls from a wide spectrum of Canadian organizations and the NFL itself to lift the simsub ban.”

Super Bowl LII logo

According to Bell, there are benefits to simsub as it “enables [Canadians] to see television advertising from Canadian companies about products and services they can actually buy here, and the advertising revenue helps fuel domestic creative production and talent development.”

When the CRTC ruled to a ban on simsubs for the 2017 Super Bowl, Bell says its media division “lost 40% of their Super Bowl audience while advertising revenues dropped $11 million.”

This February, Bell said their Super Bowl ratings dropped 39%, but the press release says 40% now.

Bell cites research from Communic@tions Management Inc., which says the simsub ban “cost the overall Canadian economy approximately $158 million.”

David Thomson, NFL Canada Managing Director, said “The CRTC’s decision to single out the Super Bowl for disparate treatment is arbitrary and should be reversed. Not only does it undermine the value of our programming, it also undermines Canadian content creators, and, ultimately, the Canadian economy.”

Bell says if the simsub ban is rescinded, it would “produce a special broadcast of US Super Bowl commercials airing on game day and make it available free of charge to all Canadian broadcast distributors,” as an on-demand service.

During the 2017 Super Bowl, Bell used a variety of contests to lure Canadian viewers to watch their broadcast of the game. In May of this year, the NFL argued the simsub ban violated NAFTA.

Super Bowl LII will take place on February 4, 2018, at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

What do you think? Should the CRTC simsub ban be lifted for the Super Bowl?