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Game not over; CRTC ruling on U.S. Super Bowl ads challenged by Bell Media

- March 2nd, 2015

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If Bell Media gets its way, Canadian Super Bowl viewers won’t have the choice to watch U.S. commercials on TV after all.

Bell Media has filed a “motion for leave to appeal” in federal court as it fights a CRTC decision to ban “simultaneous substitution” during the Super Bowl, starting in 2017.

In singling out the Super Bowl as the one event annually for which “simulcasting” is prohibited, Bell Media spokesman Scott Henderson said in a statement that the CRTC “erred in law, exceeded its jurisdiction, and demonstrated a lack of awareness of Canadian attitudes, opinions, and values.”

The first two points are legal issues on which Bell Media may, in fact, be proven right. The latter point about what Canadians think with regard to U.S. Super Bowl ads depends upon who you talk to, of course.

Bell Media issued the results of a Nanos Research poll that claims only about 20% of Canadians care about seeing the U.S. ads on TV during the Super Bowl. But when the CRTC made its decision, it claimed that not being able to watch the U.S. ads is the top complaint it receives from Canadians each year (Bell Media points out the actual number of complaints annually is extremely tiny compared to the millions of people overall who watch the game in Canada).

Both things can be true. Some Canadians who are regular watchers of the Super Bowl may see things differently than Canadians who never watch the Super Bowl anyway.

Big picture, Bell Media is arguing that banning its ability to block U.S. ads on TV in favour of its own during the Super Bowl is a big financial hit, which in turn will impact Bell’s ability to create Canadian content. And the U.S. Super Bowl ads are available online anyway.

“The decision discriminates by singling out this one particular broadcast and, more specifically, one particular licensee, given that the decision takes effect during the term of Bell Media’s current contract for the Super Bowl rights,” Henderson said.

The CRTC, on the other hand, intimated in its decision that the Super Bowl is the one day a year in which U.S. ads now are regarded as part of the overall entertainment package, and honestly, the CRTC simply got sick of hearing viewers complain about it.

Someone is going to be left complaining, no matter who wins this game.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv​

 

 

 

 

CRTC clears U.S. Super Bowl ads in Canada; Bell Media “extremely disappointed”

- January 29th, 2015

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Oh say, can you see the U.S. Super Bowl ads?

As of 2017, Canadians can answer, “Yes.”

That’s the year Canadians will be able to watch the American slate of Super Bowl commercials, live on their televisions during the game, rather than having to seek them out online.

So what will Canadians whine about now?

Kidding aside, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) issued the following release on Thursday:

“Ads during the Super Bowl get a lot of hype. They are an important part of the overall spectacle … For Canadian viewers this has been a problem. They don’t see the same ads as those seen in the U.S. because they are replaced with Canadian ads … The CRTC has taken action to resolve the issue. Beginning at the end of the 2016 NFL season (i.e., the Super Bowl in 2017), simultaneous substitution will no longer be allowed during the Super Bowl. Canadian viewers will see the same ads as American viewers. Until then, you can watch the American ads broadcast during the Super Bowl on YouTube’s AdBlitz channel.”

I have to admit, I got sick of Canadians complaining about this through the years, and ultimately it sounds as if the CRTC did, too.

Hey, I always would have preferred to watch the U.S. commercials as well. It’s the repetition that drives me crazy with the Canadian ads during the Super Bowl, seeing the same irritating spots over and over and over again.

But having watched numerous Super Bowls in the States, Canadians shouldn’t be fooled into thinking every American ad that airs during the game is a gem. For some Canadians, after years of pining for the U.S. ads, come 2017 the reaction may be, “Hmmm … that was much ado about nothing.”

Be that as it may, this obviously impacts Bell Media, which is the Canadian rights-holder for the NFL.

“We are extremely disappointed of course,” Bell Media vice-president of communications Scott Henderson said in a statement. “The government is damaging the future of local television in Canada while rewarding U.S. corporations over home-grown companies.

“Sure viewers will get to watch Wells Fargo ads in the Super Bowl instead of RBC, or Target and Wal-Mart instead of Canadian Tire. But those advertising dollars will go directly to American companies instead of Canadian content creators and broadcasters.

“Canadian companies will also have a diminished opportunity to market their products to Canadians watching U.S. ads for products they probably can’t buy. It’s a troubling approach for a Canadian regulator to take.”

AS FOR THIS YEAR …

With the game airing Sunday, Feb. 1 on NBC and CTV, it’s true that not many other networks offer new episodes of anything, in the knowledge that the Super Bowl is a ratings vampire, sucking the life out of innocent bystanders.

Full speed ahead to PBS, though, which is airing a new (well, new to North America, anyway) episode of Downton Abbey on Sunday night. Let’s just say there could be a fight involved that might rival anything going on between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots.

But if you’re not into Downton Abbey or football, there’s really only one logical thing to do.

Endure those around you screaming at the TV and wait for the halftime show, which this year features Katy Perry (pictured below). I can’t remember where I read this – probably it was on Twitter – but some clever person pointed out that with Frozen star Idina Menzel singing the national anthem and then with Perry at halftime, this is the first Super Bowl directed specifically at seven-year-old girls.

Then you endure more screaming as people get more drunk, and wait for the primo post-Super Bowl shows: The Blacklist on NBC (as well as Global); and the season-two debut of MasterChef Canada on CTV. MasterChef Canada was pushed up a week after CTV had to yank the sitcom Spun Out from the coveted post-Super Bowl slot, in response to the voyeurism charge against one of the actors, J.P. Manoux.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv​

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Winter Olympics, Super Bowl, Jay Leno; TV must-sees for the week of Feb. 2

- February 1st, 2014

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Feb. 2

1) Super Bowl
Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos meet Richard Sherman’s Seattle Seahawks in New Jersey. The weather could be nasty. Hope the power doesn’t go out. Oh wait, that happened last year.
When: Sunday on Fox, CTV

2) MasterChef Canada
Post-Super Bowl slot: The first Mystery Box Challenge takes place. You know, I really don’t like the word “mystery” associated with food. Michael Bonacini, Alvin Leung and Claudio Aprile judge.
When: Sunday on CTV

3) New Girl
Post-Super Bowl slot: A chance encounter gets Jess (Zooey Deschanel) and Cece (Hannah Simone) an invite to a party at Prince’s mansion. Prince guest-stars as himself. Really, who else could he play?
When: Sunday on Fox, City

4) Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Post-post-Super Bowl slot: Jake (Andy Samberg) learns that Amy (Melissa Fumero) may be up for a new job. This rookie series recently won the Golden Globe award for best comedy.
When: Sunday on Fox, City

5) Downton Abbey
It’s gutsy to air a new episode of anything against the Super Bowl. There probably is more of a crossover audience than you think. Anyway, no surprise, Edith (Laura Carmichael) gets troubling news.
When: Sunday on PBS

6) Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony
Remember that old SCTV skit with Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas playing hosts on Soviet television? I’m betting the festivities from Sochi, Russia will be a little more elaborate than that.
When: Friday on CBC, NBC

7) The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Billy Crystal and Garth Brooks are the guests on Leno’s final Tonight Show. Yes, yes, we’ve heard that before. But Leno might actually be leaving this time. Jimmy Fallon takes over on Feb. 17.
When: Thursday on NBC, CTV Two

8) Saving Hope
When a couple is attacked by a bear, Alex (Erica Durance) and Charlie (Michael Shanks) start to suspect there’s more to the story. Like, who was the bear working for?
When: Thursday on CTV

9) The Best Laid Plans
Season finale: It’s time for the election, as Daniel (Jonas Chernick) finally confesses and Angus (Kenneth Welsh) is faced with some unexpected developments when he returns home.
When: Monday on CBC

10) Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: 50 Years of Beautiful
Host Heidi Klum is joined by swimsuit icons Kate Upton, Tyra Banks, Marissa Miller, Kathy Ireland and Christie Brinkley. But to me, Brinkley forever will be Mrs. Jerry Gergich on Parks and Recreation.
When: Monday on NBC

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Howie “Longs” to be part of unique Super Bowl

- January 30th, 2014

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Here’s some sports-related irony for you.

The NHL can’t seem to schedule enough outdoor games. Fans of special events such as the Winter Classic love being out in the elements.

But some fans of the NFL, which is an outdoor league in many cities, are freaking out because it might be chilly or snowy for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. The big game will air Sunday, Feb. 2 on Fox and CTV.

Um, they play games regularly at open-air stadiums in Green Bay and Cleveland and Buffalo, right? There was a regular-season game in Philadelphia this season where the players were plowing through a foot of snow.

I understand the Super Bowl isn’t just about the game, which this year features the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks. But no one forced the NFL to schedule a cold-weather Super Bowl. They chose to do it, so everyone just has to deal with it.

“I think the unique thing about football – unlike baseball, basketball and hockey – is it’s not a best-of-five (series), best-of-seven – it’s one game, regardless of what the elements are,” said Fox Sports analyst Howie Long (pictured above second from right), himself a former Super Bowl champion.

“We’ve had (weather) elements in previous Super Bowls. It’s one of the things that I believe draws people to football. Does it impact the game from a quarterback perspective, maybe the receivers? Sure. But I think it embodies what football is really all about.

“And if I’m a player, do I want to be a part of winning a Super Bowl in that kind of an environment, a special, unique Super Bowl like that? Yeah, I do. I really do. Forty below, 20 below, driving rain, sleet, regardless. Whatever it is, bring it on, we’ll play in it.”

Easy to say for someone who’s going to be wearing a big coat and a scarf. But I get what Howie Long is saying. Bundle up and huddle up.

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

Sean and Catherine’s wedding is an American Horror Story at the Grammys? TV must-sees for the week

- January 26th, 2014

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Bill Harris’ TV must-sees for the week of Jan. 26

1) Grammy Awards
Live: Paul McCartney (above right) and Ringo Starr (above left), the two surviving Beatles, will take the stage as the legendary band is honoured with a lifetime achievement award. Fab, but should have happened long ago, huh?
When: Sunday on CBS, City

2) American Horror Story: Coven
Third-season finale: Another campaign for this innovative and frightening series comes to a close. Which witch will rise as the new “supreme?” The last episode sets up as a kind of in-coven Super Bowl.
When: Wednesday on FX Canada

3) Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials
Canadian viewers diverted by simulcasting often complain that they never get to see the American ads that air during the big game. Often it’s much ado about nothing, but here’s a chance to catch up.
When: Wednesday on CBS

4) Episodes
Frustrated by his current role and intrigued by an unexpected new opportunity, Matt (Matt LeBlanc) tries to convince Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tasmin Greig) to kill him off Pucks.
When: Sunday on The Movie Network, Monday on Movie Central

5) The Following
Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) receives some mysterious phone calls – no, not from telemarketers – while information comes to light about the new life put together by Joe Carroll (James Purefoy).
When: Monday on Fox, CTV

6) Community
As Annie (Alison Brie) and Professor Hickey (Jonathan Banks) prepare the cafeteria for the mid-term dance, they must negotiate with Greendale’s head custodian, played by guest star Nathan Fillion.
When: Thursday on NBC, City

7) True Detective
Maggie (Michelle Monaghan) sets up Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) with a friend, which you know won’t go well. Meanwhile, parishioners identify a scarred man who was seen with the murder victim.
When: Sunday on HBO Canada

8) Republic of Doyle
This represents the back end of a crossover-episode arrangement with Murdoch Mysteries. Yannick Bisson guest-stars as Bill Murdoch, a descendant of Detective William Murdoch.
When: Wednesday on CBC

9) 19-2
Debut: Set in Montreal, this is a 10-episode English-language adaptation of a French Canadian series. It’s about two reluctantly partnered beat cops, in this case played by Jared Keeso and Adrian Holmes.
When: Wednesday on Bravo

10) The Bachelor: Sean and Catherine’s Wedding
Live: In this special presentation, Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici exchange vows in front of family, friends, paparazzi, gossip-mag reporters, hangers-on, puzzled passers-by, you know the drill.
When: Sunday on ABC, OMNI

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv