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CTV sing in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Canadian commercials took an even bigger blow than the Seattle Seahawks after Super Bowl 49. It may have been the last time our country sees Canadian content during the big game.


“For a number of years, Canadians have complained to the CRTC that they want to see the American ads during the Super Bowl,” said the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in an online statement on Jan. 29.


The CRTC announced last week its decision to prohibit simultaneous substitution for the 2017 Super Bowl, which may result in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for Canadian television.


Simultaneous substitution means Canadian advertisements are played during the American commercials.


This is why in Regina, viewers of this year’s Super Bowl witnessed a University of Regina advertisement instead of Jublia's toenail fungus topical solution commercial.


This “considerable irritation” to Canadians was discussed during the CRTC consultation Let’s Talk TV: A Conversation with Canadians, which resulted in a policy prohibiting simultaneous substitution during the Super Bowl starting at the end of the 2016 NFL season.


David Balcon, who was a senior research officer at the CRTC when the original simultaneous substitution regulations debuted, said it is critical to have Canadian content remain on air or Canadian broadcasters lose the benefits of viewership.


“It’s a matter of really an economic under base for the Canadian broadcasting system,” said Balcon, who is now an independent film maker in Toronto.


Because more Canadians are watching more American programming, “(simultaneous substitution) preserved the value of the program to the Canadian licensee to ensure advertising could be sold on the basis of a full audience delivery,” said Balcon.


In its policy statement, the CRTC acknowledged the role of ad substitutions in supporting Canadian broadcasting, but added, “Nonetheless, Canadians have expressed ongoing frustration with the issues of simultaneous substitution in general.”


The CRTC said it received a number of official complaints each year on the issue.


Balcon said that the decision to prohibit Canadian commercials during future live Super Bowls is undermining basic CRTC principals and extending the Canadian audience to American advertisers, who will now receive a greatly increased audience for their products – by popular demand.


“The rationale for that is that content producers who sell or license TV programs to Canadian broadcasters and US broadcasters are really limiting the licence to a particular geography. And the whole issue of extra-territoriality comes into play.”


In its submission to the CRTC, Bell Media estimated $40 million could be lost to prohibiting live event simultaneous substitution.


Company officials for Bell were unwilling to comment when further contacted.


A study showed that eliminating simultaneous substitution would have cost Canadian broadcasters “$242-$266 million, with a secondary impact . . . in the range of $173-$191 million,” said the CRTC.


“As to why the CRTC did this, I suspect as a bit of a cloak for maintaining the general policy by addressing a rather minor, albeit in the media major, complaint by a vociferous group of sports fans,” said Balcon.


So, while you’re drinking your Pilsner, let’s hope you enjoy your Budweiser commercial.