CRTC Head Asks Rogers to Stop ‘Blaming’ Them for Super Bowl Ad Swaps

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.”

 

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?

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter, and @iPhoneinCanada, and on Google+.

  • erth

    i have an antenna to watch US programming without Canadian commercials.

  • Sean

    How’s that SD signal working for you?

  • FragilityG4

    I’m tired of Rogers making self serving policies and blaming everyone else when the consumer gets mad.

  • speederd

    SERIOUSLY??? Did you know that the HD signal over the air (antenna) is way better than that provided by cable companies. The signal is not compressed like how Rogers deliver your “HD” signal. I ditched cable for years now and am enjoying programming (both US and CDN) over the air in way better HD than Rogers!!

  • Z S

    Up until last year, Rogers didn’t substitute Super Bowl commercials. At least not in Newfoundland. Bell has been substituting for a while now.

    As a graphic designer who works in advertising, I always looked forward to the Super Bowl. I could care less about football, but I wanted to see all the awesome, high-budget commercials.

    So imagine my irritation when I tuned in last year and all the commercials were replaced with shitty local ads.

    Guess I’ll just watch them online later.

  • crosseyed_mofo

    rogershelps has deleted that tweet

  • SlyC

    You all misinterpreted how simultaneous substitutions work. It is not Rogers or Bell who decide this but the network who bought the rights to broadcast the American programming. ie: CTV or TSN

    They are the ones benefiting from airing their own commercials during programs like the superbowl. Notice why most of them are self promoting other CTV programming.

  • CMfly

    Well in years past Rogers did not subsim over the Fox CBS ABC channels for the superbowl, at least not on the westcoast feeds. So really it is partially them who does it. Last game if you went to the american channel there was a screen that said tune into CTV to watch the game.

    We understand the rights deals in place allow CTV to do this and force rogers/bell to comlpy.. We still don’t like it.

    If I want to watch crappy canadian content I will tune into a canadian channel. Let me support the market I wish to support instead of forcing me.

  • RyanC

    Best part of this article was him asking Rogers to provide remind their CSRs that its the broadcasters and provide additional info.

    “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.”

  • FragilityG4

    Yup OTA gets you 1080p and Rogers only gets you 1080i

  • crosseyed_mofo

    when did OTA get 1080p? i thought no broadcasts were (which includes OTA)

  • 1His_Nibs1

    I understand broadcasters doing a simsub and frankly could care less about them doing it 364 days of the year but JUST FOR ONE DAY……Super Bowl Sunday, could they just not air local content/ads and let us viewers watch the US ads? Are they really missing the boat on lost revenue? I hate the fact we can’t watch some very funny or clever ads and I in fact change the channel during Super Bowl so I don’t have to watch these local ads.

  • mike

    I have vmedia they do not similcast if u are watching fox then u see fox comercials .

  • ConfusedCan

    What I’m confused on is why this became a hate on-against Rogers deal when it was about something on CTV…which is owned by Bell.

  • crosseyed_mofo

    the problem and point of the article is how rogers replied blaming the crtc

  • FragilityG4

    You’re absolutely right … My mistake ????

  • mcfilmmakers

    It has been YEARS since OTA had 1080p mandatory broadcasts. It is in fact illegal for OTA to broadcast in SD

  • mcfilmmakers

    Yeah, could they do that one THE MOST WATCHED DAY IN THE WORLD? Be serious man. That day makes or breaks the month if not the quarter for a lot of broadcasters

  • mcfilmmakers

    Who owns CTV or TSN? Bell and Rogers.

  • mcfilmmakers

    Because a Rogers rep answered the question. Yes, CTV is owned by bell but Rogers also distributes the channel on its lineup

  • Larry Renforth

    OTA isn’t 1080p, but the bitrate of the signal is higher (less compressed like speederd mentioned). OTA is about 19 Mbps, while Rogers is only 10 Mbps. The signal comes from the broadcast affiliates antenna (like from Buffalo or Detroit).

    Then there are raw wildfeeds which are available on Ku-Band or C-Band satellite for some sports telecasts. These are uplinked directly from the production truck (and you don’t see commercials but behind the scenes stuff which is really cool). These uplinks are about 35 Mbps… crystal clear, no artifacts whatsoever! You can stand a foot away from your TV and the scoreboard text / numbers are pristine!

  • Larry Renforth

    Rogers or Bell or Shaw do the actual simsubs. There is no way CTV can put itself overtop of CBS say, without the company distributing the actual signals doing it.

    When simsubs go wrong, like during timing overruns for live sports, it’s Rogers or Bell or Shaw that need to remove them, as they should be monitoring things. They should also remove them when the audio / video is subpar, but they never do.

  • SalesRepIsAlwaysRight

    Shut up Consumer. You’re never right.

  • FragilityG4

    Exactly.

  • 1His_Nibs1

    Sorry, hate to burst your bubble but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say The World Cup is watched by more people in the world then the Super Bowl (at least the World Cup final anyways). Super Bowl watched by the most people in North America definitely but not the world.

  • Hammer66

    Having had an HD antenna on my chimney for the past eight years that picks up Buffalo HD perfectly, I don’t care what Rogers (or Bell) says!

  • Hammer66

    Hey, idiot, the 1970’s called and wanted their technical know-how back.

  • crosseyed_mofo

    no ota is 1080i

    nobody is talking about SD

  • crosseyed_mofo

    i really wasnt sure lol

  • mcfilmmakers

    Except Sean, whom you replied to. Next time read before commenting. That said, I stand corrected at 1080i.

  • Larry Renforth

    The broadcast networks don’t send out anything in 1080p, so OTA can’t be 1080p either.

    ABC and FOX are in 720p, while NBC and CBS are in 1080i.

  • mcfilmmakers

    While that may be true, not a single Canadian or US broadcaster plays the world cup. Only cable does. So again, you are asking Canadian networks to abandon their most profitable day.

  • mcfilmmakers

    Isn’t that what I just said? Bell and Roger are responsible for managing CTV and TSN.

  • Chad

    Actually CTV and TSN are owned by Bell. Rogers carries the stations but has no stake in the ownership.

  • Chad

    Rogers customers are the most spoiled self entitled fucking assholes on the planet. They blame Rogers for their problems when 90% of the time their own fucking stupidity is the csuse of their problems. They need to learn to take a little fucking responsibility.

  • crosseyed_mofo

    i replied to fragility dude, not sean

    but noted, i guess he was the one guy talking about it

  • FragilityG4

    Must be though to be a Rogers CSR eh?

    I hope one day you encounter maturity and embrace it, because language like that gets you nowhere in life. Pitiful actually.

  • mcfilmmakers

    OK. The site doesn’t show the comment tree past 3 degrees so it looks like everyone is replying to Speederd when in fact there are different reply trees.

  • Larry Renforth

    Well, even if these stations weren’t owned by Bell or Rogers, simsubs would still be done. Global, which is now owned by Shaw, still gets simsubs on Rogers. So there is a bit of difference here.

    Yes, CTV requests the right for a Super Bowl simsub, but Rogers or Bell or Shaw or whatever other provider carries them out physically at their end. CTV can’t do it by themselves. That’s why they can’t simsub OTA feeds, because they don’t go through the “CRTC grid”. So that is the point I was trying to make.

  • mcfilmmakers

    You’re right. I was thinking of sportsnet. Regardless, it is the telcos that simsub, not the networks themselves. CTV has no power over the FOX stream.

  • mcfilmmakers

    It is still an incorrect point.

    BELL applies the simsub to FOX, NBC, etc because it OWNS CTV and TSN (which broadcast the superbowl too) and wants to make money off local, Canadian ads run during the broadcast of the Super Bowl. Because it does this, BELL also asks Rogers, Telus, Videotron, etc to simsub CTV on their distribution networks so customers don’t flock to their service over BELL’s. In exchange, Rogers, Telus and Videotron ask Bell to do the same for their owned networks. It is collusion by definition to protect their local copyrights.

    This has NOTHING to do with the CRTC. At NO POINT do they ask for permission from the CRTC. There is no “CRTC grid” to go through. The CRTC only said “we don’t care if you do it, but you don’t have to”.

    The only reason US feeds aren’t simsubbed OTA is because those channels don’t have broadcast towers in Canada. As such, the telcos can’t broadcast modified OTA streams since they don’t own the rights to do so. Again, nothing to do with the CRTC and everything to do with copyright.

    Again, in summary, CTV requests nothing, Bell does it unilaterally, without permission from anyone because it owns CTV and because it can. It then asks everyone else to do it and will do it for them on their networks in exchange.

    They get local profits, you get no US ads, the CRTC doesn’t care, and they get blamed instead of the telcos.

    Everyone wins except the user. Long live our system.

  • Larry Renforth

    No, this isn’t exactly how it works. Again, it doesn’t matter who owns the network. CHCH, Global, CITY-TV, CTV, CTV2, OMNI1, OMNI2, all request simsubs from all the BDU’s (Broadcast Distribution Undertakings – Rogers, Bell, Telus, Shaw) via Mediastats, who carry them out.

    These BDU’s are obliged to carry out the simsub. If they don’t, the CRTC can get involved, like it did when Bell provided an alternate unsimsubbed feed of the SuperBowl on a newly generated digital channel for the Big Game a few years ago:

    “According to CTV, the evidence shows beyond dispute that the BDUs in question had an obligation under the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations (the Regulations) to perform simultaneous substitution of CTV’s HD broadcast of the 2008 Super Bowl but failed to fully comply with that obligation. CTV added that Bell TV also advertised to its subscribers where they could get access to the “unsubstituted” U.S. signals with U.S. Super Bowl commercials intact.”

    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2008/db2008-358.htm

  • Off the Dial

    Well, this has been a bone of contention from Canadians for a LONG time across various mediums. I recall after broadcasting school being pissed that CANCON existed, not because the CRTC was “forcing me” to listen to Canadian artists on the radio, but because Canadians were such d!cks that if it weren’t for CANCON, many great Canadian acts would never have the level of success they managed to garner, pathetic as it may be WITH that rule in place.

    But I do agree that forcing the content isn’t the greatest approach either.

  • Off the Dial

    Yeah, there is a flaw in your logic there. There may be more overall viewers of the World Cup than the Super Bowl but there’s still an finite amount of viewers in Canada (9+ million cable/satellite subscribers as per 2005 CRTC stats).

    Regardless, the main point of the SIMSUB is that in Canada, there could potentially be a large percentage of that 9+ million people tuning into the biggest NFL game of the year (and arguably, the biggest sports even in North America). Plus, Super Bowl happens every year. World Cup is only every four years. It’s a potentially lucrative opportunity for advertisers and SIMSUB gives them a leg up on getting your attention, albeit a forced one (unless of course, you opt to walk out of the room or look at your iPad or record the game and FFWD through them).

    Trust me, I LOVE the Super Bowl ads and I would love to see them but that’s what we get for being America’s little bastard child up in the attic.

  • Off the Dial

    For a long time, SIMSUB didn’t occur on Shaw carried HD East Coast feeds here in Calgary (and presumably elsewhere) and from what I recall, on live events in general. They’ve since stepped up their SIMSUB efforts so that any broadcast on a US network shows the Canadian feed.

    The worst is when they screw up the SIMSUB…I find that a more grievous complaint than missing out on Super Bowl ads (although I hate missing those ads too).

  • “Trust me, I LOVE the Super Bowl ads and I would love to see them but that’s what we get for being America’s little bastard child up in the attic.”

    lol

  • mcfilmmakers

    Your ignorance is outstanding.

    This very article quotes “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”

    Your “evidence” relates to Shaw and BELL’s failure to simsub CTV’s feed according to an agreement with EACH OTHER, NOT THE CRTC.

    The CRTC got involved because Shaw and BELL failed to respect CTV, not the CRTC regulations themselves.

    Need I remind you that at the time, CTV was independent of BELL, hence the complaint against BELL.

    Again, channels request NOTHING from the BDUs. At the time you quote, CTV was a BDU. Now it is NOT, BELL is the BDU for CTV today.

    BDUs are obliged to carry out the simsub as agreed upon under the Broadcasting Distribution Regulations in which they must simsub each other’s feeds on each other’s networks if they do so on their own channels.

    In that instance, the CRTC got involved because one BDU (CTV, which was independent) filed a complaint against other BDUs (BELL, Shaw, Starchoice) not because they went against CRTC regulations. but because they didn’t respect a contract they had amongst each other. This is the role of the CRTC.

    Starchoice was cleared because it respected it’s end of the bargain despite doing the same thing as BELL and Shaw. In other words, it had a different agreement.

    Next time you try to prove a point, try not to shoot yourself in the foot.

  • Larry Renforth

    You’ve got to be kidding me! CTV was a BDU??? How is that even possible. They didn’t distribute their own signals themselves on any cable or satellite provider – they need the cable and satellite providers to distribute their signals to homes (unless one has an OTA antenna and lives in a large market). I know Bell and CTV were separate at one point, but again, these Canadian stations rely the BDU’s to carry out the simsubs.

    I do agree that Shaw and BELL failed to respect CTV, not the CRTC regulations themselves per se. But the CRTC allows them to simsub, and without them approving it in the first place, they wouldn’t be allowed to do it. So the CRTC shouldn’t be asking to distance themselves totally. The CRTC is saying now that it is up to the BDU and the broadcaster to ensure that a simsub is carried out right, but if a BDU fails to implement it, then the CRTC can get involved still. And if someone does complain about a simsub gone awry, the CRTC will ask either the BDU or the station to follow-up to the consumer about the complaint. So they are also involved in this sense. But the technical response is provided by the BDU or the station.

    TSN isn’t simsubbed on Rogers… only on Bell. Why, because Bell does own TSN (and CTV now). But why isn’t Rogers carrying it out. Because TSN hasn’t asked for them, and technically, only OTA stations can get simsubs. Bell does simsub TSN overtop of things because of the BDU owning TSN, and that’s it. I guess the CRTC is letting them get away with this, but they really shouldn’t, as TSN isn’t available OTA.

  • Larry Renforth

    Yes… the CRTC doesn’t want blame about technical glitches, as that is between the BDU and station. But the practice itself is allowed by the CRTC.

  • Dave Steegal

    Simsubbing has been around since the 70’s. In the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, when no cable / satellite provider owned a Canadian station, simsubs were still carried out. It’s all done so that the Canadian station can make revenues for their station, and they must request the cable / satellite provider to undertake them, and the cable / satellite provider must undertake them or the CRTC will come a knocking.

  • cableman

    I work in Management for a cable company in Eastern Canada. Let me clear a few things up. Each cable company is indeed responsible to simsub in programing if a Canadian broadcaster purchases rights to air that program in Canada and requests the cable company do the simsub. In the case of the Super Bowl, Bell Media owns rights to the game. They have put requests in with the cable companies for the simsub. If cable providers do not comply then Bell Media can put in a grievence with the CRTC. I think if it were up to Rogers and other cable providers they would not sub over Superbowl just tostop the droves of complaints they recieve.

  • BigDuke1

    Nothing like a captive audience to dull any sense of imagination among companies paying for ad space on Canadian feeds. Can’t imagine the conversations around the coolers at work tomorrow will be raving over the same old “Buddy Burger” and automobile ads…

  • Guest

    Substitution is great for the remainder of years, but why can’t they turn it off for this broadcast… or you know, not take over the broadcasting on the American station?

  • Pink Floyd

    Substitution is great for the remainder of the year, but why can’t they turn it off for this one broadcast… or maybe, you know, not take over the American channel signal and air the exact same thing on two channels?

  • Matthew

    This is just another time honoured tradition in Canada of a few companies getting a payout from the Canadian government. Some might call it crony capitalism but it is very socialist in nature. CTV is not producing this content, if a paying customer of rogers is paying them to get a signal from the USA for viewing then a large monopolistic Canadian company should not have the right to come along and take that away.

  • gmd

    Most of the money received from ads is used to buy more foreign content. What is the tax payer benefit?

  • Cyclone

    This is the advantage of watching T.V. online. They can’t sim-sub there.