The usually testy relationship between the NFL and President Trump was set aside, at least temporarily, Tuesday when Commissioner Roger Goodell expressed gratitude to Trump for resolving a dispute involving the Super Bowl broadcast on Canadian television to the league’s satisfaction as part of the administration’s new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.
“We greatly appreciate President Trump’s leadership and determination in bringing about a resolution to our intellectual property issue in Canada,” Goodell said in a written statement released by the NFL.
Canada agreed Sunday to join the trade agreement between the United States and Mexico. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, is the revised version of the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump had sought, and it overturns a regulatory order in Canada forcing the CTV network to air American commercials on its Super Bowl broadcast.
That ruling by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission prevented CTV from increasing its revenue from its Super Bowl telecast by selling ads in Canada.
The NFL, seeking to preserve the value of its Super Bowl broadcasting rights in Canada, opposed the CRTC order and sought a return to the policy of simultaneous substitution, which allows Canadian TV stations with Canadian broadcasting rights to replace U.S. ads with local Canadian ads during imported programming shown simultaneously with the U.S. telecast.
The NFL argued that the 2015 order by the CRTC, the Canadian equivalent of the Federal Communications Commission in the United States, was arbitrary and discriminatory by singling out one U.S.-copyrighted program without, in the league’s view, proper notice, comment or evaluation.
That order by the CRTC was rescinded in a provision of the new trade deal, prompting the NFL’s praise of Trump.
That provision in the trade deal says that “Canada may not accord the program treatment less favorable than the treatment accorded to other programs originating in the United States retransmitted in Canada.”
Trump has been sharply critical of Goodell and the league over the NFL’s handling of protests by players during the national anthem. He also has criticized the protesting players in strong terms, beginning last year when he said at a campaign rally that owners should fire any player who protests during the anthem. Trump has returned to the topic regularly over the past year, prompting the league and owners to take his public reactions into account as they deliberated over how to deal with the protests.
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