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'Ban pre-watershed alcohol ads'


BroadcastingAlcohol Concern has called for a pre-watershed ban on TV advertising of alcohol brands, after new research claimed that children saw multiple drink ads during the World Cup.

According to research conducted by the campaign charity, more than one million children aged between four and 15-years-old were exposed to adverts from brands such as Stella Artois, Magners, Fosters, Carling and WKD during live England games shown on ITV1.

The group estimates that 1.6m under-16s viewed three alcohol adverts during England's game against Algeria, while 1.4m saw four alcohol ads in the match against the USA.

Even during non-England games, such as Uruguay versus the Netherlands, around 800,000 children watched three alcohol adverts shown during ITV's commercial breaks.

Broadcast between 8pm and 10pm, the alcohol adverts were all deemed to be within advertising guidelines by the Advertising Standards Authority.

However, Alcohol Concern is calling for a ban on all alcohol adverts before the 9pm watershed, as well as a total ban on alcohol advertising on the internet.

The charity cited a separate piece of research as claiming that 11- to 18-year-olds were viewing as many as four alcohol adverts online every day, amounting to 1,600 per year.

"It is simply unacceptable that vast numbers of children are so frequently exposed to alcohol advertising, leading to higher levels of drinking among young people and increasingly higher levels of harm," said Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker.

"Alcohol producers and advertising regulators are clearly not taking their responsibilities seriously enough and only a watershed ban on TV and an internet ban will prevent the vast majority of children from being exposed to alcohol marketing.

"Over the last seven years in England on average 36 children a day were admitted to hospital due to alcohol. Alcohol Concern is calling for a number of restrictions on alcohol marketing, including a ban on showing alcohol advertisements in cinemas other than with 18-rated films and a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports and music events."

Professor Sir Ian Gilmore of the Royal College of Physicians added: "The evidence is clear - children are affected by alcohol marketing. It influences the age at which they start drinking and how much they then drink.

"Alcohol is a drug of potential addiction and if drinks producers and retailers won't stop pushing it at our children then urgent and tough legislation is needed to protect them."

The ASA's advertising code currently forbids the advertising of alcohol brands in programmes where the proportion of under-16s watching is 20% higher than the general population.

Drinks industry trade body the Portman Group claimed that any move to introduce more stringent rules on alcohol advertising would be excessive.

"Alcohol marketing in the UK is strictly regulated to ensure it is responsible and aimed at adults. Advertising of alcohol on TV is not allowed if the proportion of under-18s in the audience rises to a certain level," said David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group.

"One cannot eliminate under-18s from the audience altogether without imposing a total advertising ban. There is very little evidence to suggest that children's exposure to alcohol marketing is associated with either the onset of drinking or amount consumed. The current restrictions are effective and proportionate."


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