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

Blood transfusion saved colitis-stricken Lake Country woman’s life

Rebecca Roth encourages public to support Lake Country blood donor clinic Sept. 26

Three candidates drop out of Central Okanagan municipal election

Two running for Peachland/OK West trustee and OK East rural director candidate step aside

Ancestral remains uncovered at Fintry to be reburied

Remains found along Shorts Creek in Fintry Provincial Park during flood remediation measures

Okanagan Rail Trail to officially open

Thursday, Sept. 27, 11 a.m., Oyama Boat Launch, Wood Lake; public welcome

Growing Okanagan tech sector hailed in new report

Study shows sector employees 12, 474 workers and is worth $1.67 billion to regional economy

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Lions earn stunning 35-32 OT win over Ticats

Epic comeback lifts B.C. past Hamilton in CFL thriller

Czarnik nets 3 as Flames dump Canucks 5-2

Calgary picks up exhibition win over Vancouver

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

Most Read