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Canadians Can Catch U.S. Commercials in Super Bowl – CRTC


Canadians can catch those U.S. commercials in the Super Bowl, finally.

Canada’s broadcast regulator has changed its tune and will no longer require the U.S. ads to be simultaneously substituted when the big game is carried in Canada.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a distribution order Friday to stop simultaneous substitution during the National Football League championship event as of 2017.

For the first time, then, in next year’s NFL title game, Canadians should be able to catch the same ads aired in the U.S.

The CRTC called them “integral element of the event”.

Being able to see those ads is still conditional on another decision, expected in the next few months, on an appeal to the CRTC’s evolving approach to ‘simsub’, following years of viewer complaints and even unauthorized viewing.

Both Bell Media, which holds the rights to broadcast the game in Canada, and the NFL, have challenged the any in commercial status. They say the CRTC doesn’t have the jurisdiction to single out the one single program for regulatory change, even if it’s Super Bowl.

Audience ratings say the game – and its popular half-time component – draws roughly 10 million viewers in Canada; each year a hundred or so complaints are made to the CRTC about the simsub.

While viewers want to see the U.S. commercials, they also want to see the game itself, which is why broadcasters in Canada pay millions for the right to carry the broadcast. To recoup the purchase price, the Canadian TV stations sell their own ad space to Canadian advertisers.

If the Canadian spots are swapped out for U.S. ads, Canadian broadcasters argue, American companies get free and added exposure, while Canadian TV companies can’t recoup the investment, or reach their audience as well or as easily.

The CRTC may well envision a mechanism which allows for both scenarios to play out – two Super Bowl sportscasters at one time – one with U.S. ads, one with Canadian spots.

In making its initial decision, the CRTC issued a distribution order pursuant to section 9(1)(h) of the Broadcasting Act, which, in effect, will remove authorization for simultaneous  substitution for the Super Bowl, effective 1 January 2017.

“Through this order, Canadians will be able to view the U.S. Super Bowl commercials – an integral element of the event – broadcast on U.S. television stations rebroadcast in Canada by television service  providers (cable, direct -to-home satellite or Internet Protocol television) . Canadians may also choose to watch the Super Bowl on Canadian television stations with Canadian advertisements. Ultimately, Canadians will have the right to choose the stations on which they will watch the Super Bowl. The distribution order is set out in the appendix to this regulatory policy.”

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