CRTC opens floor for simsub comments

The regulator has called for public comment on the Super Bowl simsub issue ahead of this weekend's big game.
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Days ahead of what is set to be the final Super Bowl to be broadcast with simultaneous substitution in Canada, the CRTC has opened the floor to the public for comments on the matter.

While a matter of course for any change in policy the CRTC seeks to implement, the call for comments should likely contribute to a wider discourse on the proposed blockade of simsub for Super Bowls from 2017 onward. The CRTC’s decision to implement the policy as part of Let’s Talk TV appeared to largely stem from the complaints of about 100 Canadians to the CRTC about being unable to watch the U.S. ads during the Canadian broadcast.

The proposal has not gone over well with the media and marketing industry, which sees one of its most significant opportunities to reach viewers en masse – an increasing rarity – evaporate in favour of U.S.-based advertisers.

Catherine MacLeod, president of thinkTV, expressed similar sentiments, saying the only winners in a simsub-free Super Bowl are Americans. 

“With this decision, the CRTC will deny Canadian companies the opportunity to advertise to the biggest television audience in the country,” she says. “By doing so, it will also deny them the brand lift and sales growth that Super Bowl advertising has been proven to deliver.”

Neil Johnston, chief trading officer, GroupM Canada, told MiC that he hopes the CRTC asking for interventions is a precursor to revisiting the decision.

However, not all of the industry agrees. In a joint statement issued via the ad-industry’s CASSIES awards on the value of Super Bowl advertising, executives including Kraft Heinz Canada CMO Tony Matta and Juniper Park\TBWA CEO Jill Nykoliation, indicated differing opinions on the future of simsub in Canada. Matta, for his part, argued that the industry is simply attempting to put speed bumps up for consumers already on the road to all-access content.

“The reality is that consumers will inevitably consume the media they want to consume, when, where and how they want,” he said in the release. “The channels already exist for them to do so. As Canadians we should be looking at how we can capitalize on this and innovate. Not just simply put up barriers.”

A Bell Media representative said the company won’t be commenting on the CRTC announcement.

Bell and the NFL have not yet been granted a leave to appeal with the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA) on Dec. 15 around the CRTC’s most-recent simsub document, which was released last November. Both Bell and the NFL were granted appeals for their previous applications earlier in 2015 with the FCA.

Super Bowl 50 airs this Sunday on CTV and RDS.

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