Canadians won’t be able to see U.S.-based Super Bowl ads, Supreme Court rules

Bell said the regulator’s decision cost it viewers and millions of dollars in revenue

The Supreme Court has overturned a decision that allowed viewers to see keenly anticipated American commercials during the Super Bowl broadcast.

Bell Canada’s media division secured an exclusive licence from the NFL in 2013 to broadcast the Super Bowl in Canada and sold ad time to Canadian businesses to be inserted into the program on both Canadian and American stations.

The practice denied Canadian viewers a chance to see entertaining U.S. commercials that often generated as big a buzz as the football game.

In 2016, the federal broadcast regulator decided that in the case of the Super Bowl, the usual practice of substituting Canadian ads for U.S. ones on American channels available in Canada was not in the public interest.

Bell said the regulator’s decision cost it viewers and millions of dollars in revenue, prompting an appeal from the broadcaster and the NFL.

The Federal Court of Appeal rejected the challenge, saying Parliament intended the regulator to decide how best to balance competing policy objectives related to broadcasting in Canada.

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