CRTC ban gives Super Bowl fans what they really want

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One of the most bizarre, culturally-baffling times of the year is almost upon us, when hordes of people turn on their TVs in breathless anticipation of… the ads.

Super Bowl ads are often as big as the game itself, sometimes bigger. There likely aren’t many non-NFL fans who could tell you who won the 1984 Super Bowl, but the ad for the Apple Macintosh is still widely remembered.

For years, Canadians have endured the frustration of missing out on those ads as broadcasters played local ones instead of the exciting U.S. versions. Well, that long nightmare is almost over.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has announced it plans to ban Canadian TV channels for blocking U.S. Super Bowl ads starting in 2017.

“Canadians have told us loud and clear: advertising is part of the spectacle associated with this event," CRTC Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais, said Thursday.Canadian channels swap those ads in order to generate their own revenue, but those ads just can’t compete with U.S. ones, apparently. The practice, known as simultaneous substitution, or “simsub,” generates a lot of complaints

"Viewers dislike it, particularly when it is exercised during major live broadcasts such as the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards," Blais continued. "They tell the CRTC — and we receive many complaints — that they want to see the newest American commercials as and when they are broadcast.”

He also noted that simsub is often mistimed, meaning viewers could miss parts of the game when Canadian ads overlap.

This weekend’s Seattle-New England game unfortunately promises to be a bore since it’ll still feature Canadian ads, but next year’s game could be more entertaining if rights-holder Bell opts to use U.S. ads.

If not 2017, will finally bring the day Canadian viewers are clamouring for.

However, the CRTC won’t ban simsub altogether since it provides a crucial revenue stream for broadcasters. This means other big U.S. TV events like the Oscars or World Series will still carry Canadian ads. Unless enough viewers complain.

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