Financial Post Columnist Raps CRTC Super Bowl Decision


Terence Corcoran: CRTC fumbled its imaginary Super Bowl commercial crisis

by , Financial Post       January 29, 2015 |
According to the CRTC, Canadians are clamouring to be allowed to watch the U.S. Super Bowl ads that are already available on the Internet, on television.

Video grabAccording to the CRTC, Canadians are clamouring to be allowed to watch the U.S. Super Bowl ads that are already available on the Internet, on television.
If this were 2017, the Victoria’s Secret Super Bowl commercial would be no secret to Canadians watching the game on CTV. Under a demagogic declaration Thursday from Jean-Pierre Blais, head of the obsolete Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the blonde in the red bra featured in the Victoria’s Secret ad for U.S. viewers of the 2015 Super Bowl would be mandated viewing for Canadian NFL fans.


Four months after listening to hours of gloomy testimony from Canada’s top broadcasting executives about how broken they think the country’s revenue model for local television is, the federal regulator made an announcement focusing its attention instead on something entirely else: ensuring Canadians will finally see flashy U.S. commercials during the Super Bowl.


For the first time, the CRTC will place a limited ban on the common industry practice known as simultaneous substitution, chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said Thursday at a London Chamber of Commerce gathering in London, Ont. This swapping practice generates a total of $250 million annually for Canadian broadcasters by allowing them to provide their own feed of international programs — from sports to sitcoms — swapping out American commercials for spots sold here to Canadian advertisers.

The lingerie maker’s commercial is undoubtedly already installed in the minds of National Football League fans as mandatory viewing, with this year’s deep subliminal message — boosted by a sultry female voice singing “I’m in the mood for love” — spelled out in text as “Let the Real Games Begin.” He, he. Get it?

The commercial is already up on the Internet. Not good enough for Mr. Blais.

In a bizarre speech in London, Ont., laying out new policy, he claimed to be responding to a groundswell of Canadians calling for action on the Super Bowl commercial crisis. “Canadians have told us loud and clear: Advertising is part of the spectacle associated with this event.”

Mr. Blais intends to fix that wrong, promising to ban simultaneous commercial substitution by CTV when it carries the Super Bowl in 2017. At the same time, Mr. Blais committed to move beyond the Super Bowl and tackle the general issue of simultaneous commercial substitution more broadly. The CRTC, he said, is not going to allow maintenance of the status quo.

And so, under Mr. Blais’ leadership, Canada’s broadcast regulator — upholder of Canadian content and foreign ownership rules, protector of the national public interest and self-proclaimed “bridge-builder” to the emerging free-for-all television revolution — has a new mission: upholding and enforcing the right of U.S. advertisers in Canada.

Aside from that, Mr. Blais’ plan undermines Canadian advertisers, stripping them of the opportunity to reach millions of NFL fans in Canada. The ban would also trash the contract rights of a Canadian broadcaster — in this case CTV with the NFL. All that for non-existent benefits, unless the objective is to give the CRTC something to do.



  1. Is it just me, or do both this guy and Kevin O’Leary (on his recent BNN appearance) not get it?

    This isn’t about ” upholding and enforcing the right of U.S. advertisers in Canada”… they don’t HAVE any rights except those I grant them by watching the Superbowl on a US channel instead of CTV.

    Both of these wingnuts have it backwards. CTV can still sell out their coverage and I can watch CTV – or NBC if I choose. Yesterday I watched NBC Detroit and guess what, I got the CTV coverage substituted by my cable provider.

    Isn’t that what M. Blais is proposing to do… end the substitution on AMERICAN channels?

  2. Nothing stops Canadians from watching these ads on You Tube or other Internet sources.

    What I’ve never understood is why these well-heeled sponsors, whose products almost always sell in Canada, don’t simply buy airtime with the Canadian rights holder for these much-hyped-in-advance ads?

    An occasional ad might cross the line of what’s acceptable to the CRTC or Canadian Broadcast Standards. But most are warm, tug-at-your-heartstrings productions that should easily pass muster.


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