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Nov 22, 2017

CRTC’s Super Bowl ruling still ‘a hot button’: BCE CEO

BCE CEO George Cope inducted into 2018 Canadian Business Hall of Fame

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BCE Chief Executive Officer George Cope is still hot under the collar over a CRTC decision that forces Canadian broadcasters to let viewers watch U.S. Super Bowl ads.

In an interview on BNN, Cope said the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s ban on simultaneous substitution continues to be a sore point for not only the telco, but its advertising customers – and the economy.

“The Super Bowl is probably a hot button with me still. I still don’t think it’s in the best interest for Canadian business in general,” Cope said. “We think it’s important that companies in Canada can advertise in the Super Bowl.”

The CRTC announced the ban in January 2015, when then-Chairman Jean-Pierre Blais said U.S. commercials were an intrinsic part of the Super Bowl-viewing experience.

"The advertisement around the Super Bowl is part of the spectacle, there's hype and has been for decades before the event and during the event. It is very much a special case," Blais said at the time.

Cope, whose BCE (BCE.TO) owns BNN through its Bell Media division, said he’s hopeful the company’s argument on behalf of the broader Canadian economy will ultimately bear fruit.

“It’s one of the busiest days of the year for advertisers, and we want all Canadian brands to be seen in the marketplace,” he said. “That’s the trick with that decision. We’re still working on it, and I’m still optimistic, because it’s really the wrong direction for the economy. I’m hoping over time we’ll get it changed.”

BCE, which launched a legal challenge against the ban in August, says it stands to take an $11-million hit if the decision is not reversed in time for the upcoming Super Bowl.