Canadian football fans who hoped to enjoy innovative and hilarious American ads during the Super Bowl are out of luck — and they can thank U.S. President Donald Trump for it, he said at a rally on Thursday night.
At a rally in Rochester, Minn., Trump said he played a key role in helping to heal a rift between Canada and the National Football League (NFL) over ads played during the Super Bowl, as negotiations progressed toward the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA).
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As part of USMCA, the Canadian government agreed to overturn Broadcasting Regulatory Policy CRTC 2016-334 and Broadcasting Order CRTC 2016-335 — a decision that removed “simultaneous substitution,” or “simsub,” during the Super Bowl.
“Simsub” is a practice that allows Canadian ads to be broadcast on American networks when a program is showing in both countries at the same time. As such, it allowed Canadian ads to be broadcast on all networks that were showing the Super Bowl, including U.S. channels.
The CRTC’s order suspended simsub once a year, so that U.S. Super Bowl ads could air in Canada.
The NFL and Bell Media, which was broadcasting the game, went to court to have the order overturned, but they were dismissed.
But today, thanks to the USCMA, the order is no more — and Bell Media is happy with that.
“It was a positive decision by the federal government that will benefit Canadian content creators, advertisers and our overall broadcasting industry,” the company said in a statement.
Chapter 15 of the agreement reads as follows: “With respect to simultaneous substitution of commercials during the retransmission in Canada of the program referenced in those measures, Canada may not accord the program treatment less favourable than the treatment accorded to other programs originating in the United States retransmitted in Canada.”
Trump took credit for making it all happen on Thursday.
“I heard that the NFL had a big problem with Canada on their advertising, on the commercials, a big, big problem,” he said.
“So during the negotiation, I said, ‘You’ve got to fix the NFL problem.’
“Took me two minutes, and now the NFL is so happy, it’s all worked out, it’s all worked out.”
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had expressed concern about the CRTC’s order earlier this year.
“The United States is very concerned about this policy,” he wrote in an annual report on trade barriers.
Lighthizer went on to say, “U.S. suppliers of programming believe that the price Canadian networks pay for Super Bowl rights is determined by the value of advertising they can sell in Canada, and that the CRTC’s decision reduces the value of their programming.”
He added that American broadcasters in states along the U.S.-Canada border were also worried about Canadian networks using U.S. signals and making them accessible in the Great White North.
At the rally, Trump claimed he said, “You’ve got to fix the NFL problem, it’s unfair what you do to them during the Super Bowls, very unfair.”
He said he later received a call from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell telling him, “I’d like to thank you for what you did. You solved a problem that was going on for years — the Obama administration couldn’t do it.
“Nobody could do it, nobody could get it done. I did it in two minutes.”
— With files from Maham Abedi and The Canadian Press