Super Bowl ad policy to blame for layoffs, says Bell Media


Bell Media is citing the CRTC’s Super Bowl advertising policies as a factor in its decision to cut more than 20 jobs across the country.

Earlier this week, the media company confirmed to Cartt.ca that it is planning to restructure, resulting in layoffs at local radio and TV stations.

Bell says the decision was made in response to a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) policy introduced last year in August. Under this ruling, Canadians are able to watch the big budget ads that will be played during the football game.

Previously, federal law known as simultaneous substitution (simsub) was in place, which required signals and ads from American channels to be temporarily replaced by that of another channel showing the same program at the same time. This policy is largely remaining untouched – except when it comes to the Super Bowl, which now lets Canadians see the original ads run on American channels.

Bell acquired exclusive rights to air the Super Bowl in Canada, which the company will broadcast on its CTV and TSN channels, as well as its mobile apps and website. As a result of this amendment, Bell says it stands to lose millions of dollars since it planned to recoup the costs of this exclusivity by selling ad space. It appealed the CRTC’s move in November, but was unable to stay the decision.

“There’s definitely been a significant revenue impact from the Super Bowl and other regulatory decisions as well,” Bell spokesperson Scott Henderson told Cartt.ca. “But the reality is that Bell Media and other Canadian media companies are facing notable change on all fronts, and as a result we need to adjust our business appropriately.”

Canadian broadcasters bring in about $250 million CAD in annual revenue from simsub, but some consumers aren’t as big on the practice. Viewers have long been complaining about substitution errors interrupting live programming and in particular about missing out on the high-profile U.S. Super Bowl ads. The ruling aimed to address these concerns about the NFL’s biggest game.

The Super Bowl will air on Sunday, February 5th at 6:30PM EST.

Source: The Financial Post