Great Moments in Responsive Government Regulation
By David Henderson
“Canadians have told us loud and clear: advertising is part of the spectacle” associated with the [Super Bowl] game, Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, said Thursday [January 29, 2015].
This is from Paul Vieira, “Canadians to See Super Bowl Ads–in 2017,” Wall Street Journal, January 30, 2015.
The CRTC, Canada’s version of the FCC, is, I believe, the first regulatory agency I ever criticized in print (in 1971).
Here’s the background, from Mr. Vieira’s article:
Canada mandates “simultaneous substitution” on over-the-air channels, requiring Canadian cable- and satellite-TV companies to distribute a local signal instead of a U.S. signal when two stations air the same programming at the same time. The rule, which draws advertising revenue to Canadian-owned networks, means viewers watch the U.S. show but see Canadian commercials, regardless of whether they choose a Canadian or American station.
Vieira explains further:
The practice is typically a nonissue, but draws widespread criticism during the Super Bowl, when the 8 million Canadians who tune into the game don’t get to see the ads that have become an event in their own right.
Canadians told the CRTC “loud and clear” about their objections to this practice during Super Bowl.
And that’s why Mr. Blais is acting so quickly. He’s relaxing the regulation only 2 Super Bowls after this “loud and clear” objection.
Keep in mind, whenever you advocate regulation to achieve ends you desire, that the regulators move at a snail’s pace. Though that might be unfair to snails.