Regular banning substitution of Canadian ads during Super Bowl

New rule will be officially in place for the 2017 Super Bowl

LONDON, Ont. – Canada’s broadcast regulator is banning the substitution of Canadian advertisements over American ads during the Super Bowl.

The decision won’t take effect in time for this Sunday’s game, but it could be in place for next year if Bell Media — the rights holder for the 2016 event — waives its rights to switch ads.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission says the new rule will be officially in place for the 2017 Super Bowl.

Television networks will, however, still be allowed to simultaneously substitute advertising — a process known as simsub — on programming broadcast over local TV stations, but not on specialty channels.

“Canadians asked us to fix simsub,” CRTC Jean-Pierre Blais told a London, Ont., business gathering Thursday morning.

“And we heard you.”

The issue divides viewers and broadcasters, Blais said.

Viewers hate it because it causes them to miss key elements of programs, especially during live broadcasts.

Broadcasters, however, need the revenue it generates to survive, he said, which is why the practice is remaining in place for other broadcasts besides the annual NFL game.

But he said the CRTC expects broadcasters to be able to deliver flawless programming when they are switching ads and there will be penalties if they don’t.

“In this day and age when technology allows us to wear computers, put a Canadarm in space and land a satellite on a comet, I cannot believe that every broadcaster does not have the wherewithal to execute simsub,” he said.

“There will be no more sleeping at the switch.”

Blais also announced that broadcasters will lose the ability to switch ads, along with mandatory carriage privileges on cable and satellite services, if they shut down transmitters that allow Canadians access to free, over-the-air TV signals.

The CRTC is also is ordering Bell Mobility and Videotron to stop giving their own mobile television services an unfair advantage over other Internet services.

The two companies have exempted their own mobile television services from their standard monthly data charges while content from other websites or apps is counted against a customer’s data cap.

Videotron had already indicated it was ceasing the practice by the end of 2014, but the CRTC says it wants proof of that by Mar. 31.

Bell Mobility is being given until Apr. 29 to stop doing it.

Blais said in a age of rapidly-changing communication platforms, the regulator still has a key role to play in enabling fair and open communication.

He said too much focus on the bottom line on the part of broadcasters is worrisome, especially when it’s followed by the reduction in funding of local television.

News reporting and analysis are critical, he said.

“An informed citizenry cannot be the sacrificial offering on the altar of corporate profits or deficit reduction,” he said.

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