Bell files Supreme Court appeal over CRTC’s American Super Bowl ad decision


Roughly one month after the federal appellate court rejected the national telecom’s appeal, Bell is now pursuing an overturn of the telecom regulator’s 2015 Super Bowl ad decision through the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC). The SCC appeal is supported by the NFL, which has filed its own accompanying action.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) 2015 decision banned the substitution of Canadian ads for American ads (known as simultaneous substitution or simsub) during the Super Bowl, giving Bell until the 2017 Super Bowl to enact the decision. The CRTC subsequently granted Bell leave to appeal in early November 2016, and is still deliberating that appeal.

In the interim, Bell was forced to run American ads during 2017’s big game, a change it says led to a 39 percent decline in its audience for the game this year and a drop of $11 million CAD in advertising revenue.

With this SCC appeal, it seems that Bell is hoping to avoid potentially losing viewers and ad revenue again this year. Bell has also applied for a stay in the CRTC’s decisions and has asked the SCC — Canada’s highest appellate court — to expedite its deliberation process.

In their SCC appeals, Bell and the NFL question whether the CRTC has jurisdiction to make an order targeting a single program under the Broadcasting Act. Bell also argues that it will suffer irreparable financial harm if the order is not stayed, and adds that the stay will protect Canadian interests over “the interests of U.S. advertises who stand to benefit the most from the Super Bowl Order.”

The Supreme Court has yet to respond to the appeal.