Government to probe alcohol ad rules

The Government is to review the current scheduling restrictions on advertising alcohol, one of several planned measures looking at the regulation of alcohol marketing.


Ministers will work with the Advertising Standards Authority and broadcasting watchdog Ofcom to look at ways to ensure that alcohol ads are not shown during programmes that do appeal to young people, such as X-Factor, even if the programmes are not aimed specifially at a young audience.

The plan was unveiled in the government’s alcohol strategy aimed at tackling binge drinking.

Other marketing-related matters contained in the strategy include:

  • Working with industry body The Portman Group to ensure that brands guilty of “unacceptable marketing” are banned.
  • Working with the industry to raise awareness of the bodies, such as the ASA and The Portman Group, where consumers can complain about irresponsible marketing.
  • Working with the ASA to ensure the “full and vigorous application of powers” are applied to crack-down on online and social media marketing
  • Working with the industry on a new method to verify people’s actual ages when they are accessing producer’s websites.
  • Working with the ASA and others to look at the rules and incentives that might “inhibit the promotion of lower strength alcohol products.”

The need for the proposals has been questioned by the advertising industry, which claims that current rules are sufficient.

Ian Twinn, director of public affairs at ISBA, says: “We will work with the ASA and Ofcom to examine ways to ensure that adverts promoting alcohol are not shown during programmes of high appeal to young people’. However, as rules already exist that prevent alcohol being advertised during programmes where there is a likelihood of a high proportion of children tuning in, ISBA is concerned that this approach could penalise responsible advertisers and have an unintended impact on advertisers of non-alcoholic products.

“The existing rules already ban alcohol ads during programmes where there is a likelihood of a high proportion of children tuning in. These new proposals may have a very serious impact on the funding of the TV programmes that rely on adspend. Further, it could have the unintended consequence of advertisers of non-alcoholic products facing a very overcrowded late night ad space.”

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