Supreme Court agrees to hear case from Bell, NFL on Super Bowl ads

Bell Canada, National Football League appeal CRTC ruling that exempted American ads on Canadian TVs

The Supreme Court of Canada is going to play referee to help resolve the question of whether Canadians should be able to watch big-budget American commercials during the Super Bowl.

The court said Thursday it will hear appeals from Bell Canada and the National Football League over a CRTC ruling that exempted the football championship from normal practice in which Canadian ads are substituted for U.S. ones on Canadian TV.

To many Canadian fans, the highly anticipated Super Bowl commercials are considered part of the entertainment of the championship broadcast and for years there were complaints about missing them. Many turned to watching them online.

In 2016, the broadcast regulator decided that in the case of the Super Bowl, substitution was not in the public interest and excluded the game from the normal TV practice.

Bell has an exclusive licence from the NFL to broadcast the Super Bowl in Canada. It recovers the costs of that licence by selling ad time to Canadian businesses to be inserted into the Super Bowl broadcast on both Canadian and American stations.

The company said the CRTC decision cost it viewers, not to mention millions in revenue.

It argued — along with the league — that the CRTC order conflicted with Canadian broadcasting policy and regulations, targeted a specific program and violated the Copyright Act.

In a December judgment against Bell and the NFL, Justice David Near of the Federal Court of Appeal found there was ”a certain irony” that legislation aimed at protecting Canada’s broadcasting industry was used to allow for American ads, to the apparent detriment of the industry.

“But there are numerous disparate objectives set out in the Broadcasting Act and Parliament intended that the CRTC decide how best to balance competing policy objectives related to broadcasting in Canada,” Near wrote.

“It is not for the court to engage in weighing these competing policy objectives and substituting its own view in deciding which policy objectives should be pursued.”

Bell said in a statement it is pleased that the Supreme Court will hear the appeal: “We look forward to advancing our argument that a broad range of Canadian creators, producers, advertisers and businesses have been negatively impacted by the original decision.”

In deciding to hear the case, the Supreme Court said the issue goes beyond Super Bowl TV ads and provides an opportunity to consider how the courts may review actions by administrative bodies like the CRTC.

It invited Bell and the NFL to devote “a substantial part” of their arguments to the question of what standard applies to judicial review of rulings by these agencies.

The court will hear the case along with a government appeal on whether the Toronto-born sons of Russian spies are actually Canadian citizens. The issues are linked by the judicial review question.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

200 firefighters and 18 helicopters were working to increase the containment of the fires

Revelstoke Art Gallery hosts exhibition in honour of Pat Wells

Barbara Maye Special to the Review Stone Carving and Revelstoke have a… Continue reading

Okanagan Wildfires: An evening update on wildfires and evacuations

A Saturday evening look at the major wildfires impacting the Okanagan and Similkameen.

Wildfires in Mt. Revelstoke National Park not currently a threat to people or assets

Since the lightning storm on Tuesday there have been three fires on… Continue reading

UPDATE: Revelstoke RCMP looking for information on missing person John Cunliffe

The Revelstoke Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detachment is continuing to ask for… Continue reading

All-Indigenous teams break new ground, making BC Games history

This is the first time there have been dedicated Indigenous teams at the BC Summer Games

ZONE 2: Okanagan twins bring ultimate competition to the BC Games

Brothers Connor and Holden Berrisford are each other’s main motivators

Mount Conkle fire grew but 90 per cent guarded

The wildfire has grown to an estimated 118 hectares from 93 hectares last night

Update:Mount Eneas wildfire holds at 1,374 hectares

The wildfire is still considered out of control

Recovery high schools could help teens before addiction takes hold: B.C. parents

Schools could provide mental health supports and let parents discuss their children’s drug use openly

Haida Gwaii village faces housing crisis, targets short-term rentals

Housing is tight and the village is pretty close to zero vacancy

Progress being made on Okanagan wildfires

Danger not over, fires could flare up again

B.C. VIEWS: Unions regain control of public construction

B.C.’s 40-year battle swings back to international big labour

Most Read