Bell Media loses federal court appeal of Super Bowl ad policy


Bell Media has lost its appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal over the Canadian telecom regulator’s decision to mandate the broadcasting of American ads during the Super Bowl.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released a policy banning substitution of American ads for Canadian ads (known as simultaneous substitution or simsub) during the big game in January 2015 but gave Bell until the 2017 Super Bowl to enact the decision, however. It subsequently granted the telecom leave to appeal in early November 2016. 

The policy was initially crafted in response to Canadian consumer demand for American Super Bowl commercials, which have grown to become a cultural phenomenon in and of themselves. But Bell says the change in policy led to a 40 percent decline in its audience for the game this year and a drop of $11 million CAD in advertising revenue.

According to The Globe and Mail, the panel was not without sympathy for Bell’s arguments, but ruled that it was reasonable for the CRTC to make the decision it did and also rejected an argument that the ruling conflicts with provisions under the Copyright Act.

Justice David Near wrote: “There is a certain irony that legislation that has the protection of the Canadian broadcasting industry and its employees as one of its important objectives is being used to allow for the broadcasting of American ads during the Super Bowl to the apparent detriment of the Canadian industry and its employees.”

This loss doesn’t mark the end of Bell’s fight, though. The major Canadian carrier has also filed (and renewed) an appeal with the CRTC itself, which is still ongoing.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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