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CTV prepares for landmark Super Bowl coverage, NFL tackles ad ruling

Canadian pay-television broadcaster CTV has said Super Bowl LI, the showpiece game of the NFL season, will be broadcast on a triple-simulcast basis for the first time as the American football league said it has raised the issue of a contentious ruling by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission with the newly-formed US government.

For the first time ever, the NFL championship game will be broadcast in triple-simulcast on CTV, CTV Two and TSN, as the New England Patriots take on the Atlanta Falcons at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sunday.

In addition, CTV said that in the lead-up to the game Canadian fans can visit BigGameAds.ca, a platform hosting all the latest American Super Bowl adverts. The site directs visitors to the best new ads as they are released in advance of the game, as well as fan-favourite ads from previous seasons.

The concept of advertising during the Super Bowl has proved a contentious one in Canada following a ruling by the CRTC in January 2015. The country’s media regulator has banned the substitution of Canadian advertising over US advertising during major sporting events such as the Super Bowl.

The so-called simultaneous substitution of ads is a controversial subject 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.

This year’s Super Bowl will be the first time that Canadians tuning in to Fox, the broadcaster of the game in the US, will be able to watch the big-budget American adverts. Canadian ads will still play on CTV.

The CRTC’s decision has angered telecommunications firm Bell Media, which owns CTV and holds rights to the NFL in Canada through to 2019, along with Canadian advertisers and the league itself.

Jocelyn Moore, the NFL’s senior vice-president of public policy and government affairs, told Canadian public-service broadcaster CBC: “We have raised this with all levels of government here in the US and Canada. This is on the Trump administration's radar. We are very, very hopeful that this will be resolved before the Super Bowl.”

Moore added: “Look, if any American company, whether they're in Canada already or seeking to do business with Canada, when they look at this example of two entities, one US and one Canadian, entering into a contract and then that contract in the middle is kind of retroactively undermined, I think they have to question the lack of business certainty in Canada.”