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

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

New Barriere Fire Chief appointed

Ashley Wohlgemuth first woman to serve as Fire Chief in Barriere

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Third overall in Canada for McLure, B.C. cowboy

McLure junior bull rider, Jake Bradley, finished third overall at the recent… Continue reading

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

B.C. man designer behind Canucks’ retro jersey

Jeremie White was 20 years old when he told Canucks assistant GM Brian Burke he had a design

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Northern B.C. residents face more evacuation orders as some smoke clears up

Regional District of BulkleyNechako issued new, expanded evacuation orders for remote areas Saturday

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Most Read