Marco Rubio Looks to Stop U.S. Super Bowl Ads on Canadian TV

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Marco Rubio

The Republican senator wants Canada's TV czar to reverse a ban on local commercials replacing American spots during the championship game telecast.

Former U.S. presidential hopeful Marco Rubio has asked Canada to stop its TV regulator from forcing the CTV network to air American Super Bowl telecast commercials.

Rubio and fellow Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, in a letter Tuesday to Canadian ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton, argue the CTV network, Canada's exclusive Super Bowl rights holder, should be allowed to continue maximizing its NFL championship game ad revenue by substituting buzzy U.S. commercials with homegrown ads.

The U.S. senators, in a letter obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, warn the CTV standing to receive less advertising revenue for its Super Bowl broadcast "sends a troubling signal about the value Canada places on its largest trading partner, best customer and close friend." Much is at stake for the CTV and the NFL. The Super Bowl is the most-watched annual sports event on Canadian TV.

"We hope that upon review of the harmful precedence this order will set, Canada will reverse this policy," Rubio and Johnson wrote. Canada's decades-long simultaneous substitution rules allow local broadcasters like CTV to replace the U.S. feed for popular American shows like The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family and air local commercials to boost revenues.

But the CRTC in January 2015 decided to ban homegrown ads replacing glitzy American spots during CTV's Super Bowl telecast, starting with the Canadian network's use of the Fox feed for the championship game at Houston's NRG Stadium on Feb. 5, 2017.

That decision followed years of pre-game hype surrounding expensive American Super Bowl ads driving Canadians to complain to the CRTC. The NFL, NFL Productions and CTV parent Bell Media earlier urged Canadians courts to strike down the CRTC policy so the Canadian TV network can fully exploit its exclusive Super Bowl rights.

The NFL also argued it could not fully exploit the value of its Super Bowl and other copyrights north of the border, putting the pro league at a disadvantage when it negotiates a renewal of those rights in Canada.