Ofcom has asked the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) to review whether tougher curbs on alcohol advertising are needed. It follows findings from Ofcom research, commissioned by the Government as part of its Alcohol Strategy, that found that children saw an average of 3.7 alcohol adverts per week in 2010 and 3.2 in 2011, compared with 2.7 in 2007.
The ASA has launched an investigation to uncover breaches to scheduling rules during this period and will take retrospective action on those advertisers found to have broken rules. Meanwhile, BCAP will review existing scheduling rules to ensure they are clear and easy to follow. The recommendations are to be published in October.
The review has been welcomed by campaign groups who say a broader clamp down on online advertising is needed to limit children’s exposure to alcohol marketing.
Eric Appleby, chief executive of Alcohol Concern says: Clearly allowing industry to regulate itself isn’t working. – a recent study by Alcohol Concern showed children are more familiar with alcohol brands than with those for ice cream and cakes.
“While our Youth Alcohol Advertising Council works really hard to identify and complain about adverts which they feel cross the line, the process is slow, reactive and feels like it’s working in the favour of alcohol advertisers.”
Ian Twinn, ISBA’s director of public affairs, says “Itis right to review the rules” but claims the “the increase in [childrens’] exposure to alcohol ads was comparatively small”.
He adds: “It is interesting that in the last decade the actual consumption of alcohol among underage drinkers has fallen. Clearly, the rules we have which mean that alcohol ads do not appeal as strongly to those very small number of children who happen to see them, are working.”
The review is the latest development in ongoing discussions around TV alcohol advertising. Campaign groups and the Government have warned drinks firms to do more to tackle the damage to health that their products cause.