Bell fights regulator’s ruling on advertising during sports broadcasts

Canadian telecommunications company Bell Media has launched an appeal against the decision of the country’s media regulator to ban the substitution of Canadian advertising over US advertising during major sporting events such as the NFL American football league’s Super Bowl.

The appeal follows a January 29 ruling from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission preventing so-called simultaneous substitution of ads. The practice is a contentious one with sports fans upset that they cannot watch US ads during the Super Bowl, a major part of the broadcast experience for the NFL’s showpiece game.

The CRTC has also banned simsub for specialty channels, which affects live sports programming on other networks, adding it would impose penalties for replacement ads that run into important points in the broadcasts – another criticism of the current practice.

However, Bell has claimed the CRTC has acted in error by singling out the Super Bowl for this treatment, while also highlighting that simsub provides for valuable additional revenues to pay for the sports rights themselves.

Bell reinforced its stance yesterday (Monday) by releasing a Nanos Research poll suggesting that 69 per cent of the 1,000 people surveyed believe “supporting Canadian broadcasters” is more important than watching US ads during the Super Bowl. 

In December 2013, Bell extended and expanded a media rights deal with NFL that allowed the company to show more games than ever before. The length of the multi-year rights deal was not disclosed.

The CRTC ban is set to come into force in 2017. A Bell spokesperson told the website it would be “premature to comment” on whether the CRTC ruling would prevent the broadcaster from bidding on future NFL contracts.