Last orders for booze ads?

Could alcohol advertising be about to go the way of cigarettes? Ofcom, the press watchdog, has asked regulators to have another look at how much booze advertising children are exposed to on TV.

Last Updated: 12 Jun 2013

Ofcom made the request after its researchers found that many of the programmes watched by children are actually aimed at adults. Apparently, the average child watches between 2.1 and 2.8 hours of telly a day, with viewing among 4-15 year olds split almost evenly between shows aimed at children and adults. That said, it turns out viewing for that age group peaks between 8pm and 9pm – the X-Factor/Britain’s Got Talent time slot – although 16-17 year olds (not surprisingly) watch more TV later on, typically between 9pm and 10pm.

Although at the moment the rules prohibit alcohol advertising for programmes seen as likely to appeal to under-18s – that’s CBeebies out, then – the predictions are made based on historical audience data. Obviously, when it comes to new shows, making that call is difficult, and Ofcom said that ‘in a small minority of cases, alcohol advertising has appeared in programmes where the audience data indicates it would ‘not normally be permitted’.

So now the watchdog wants the UK’s two advertising regulators, the Advertising Standards Authority and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, to reassess whether the current approach to identifying which programmes should exclude alcohol advertising is working properly, and whether it’s ‘sufficiently comprehensive’ to ensure les enfants are protected.

Ofcom has issued instructions to the ASA to ‘identify any issues and take compliance action where necessary’ and has asked the BCAP to set out recommendations in October this year. Although if Ofcom really wants to put kids off drinking, all it has to do is stick them in front of the drunken revelry on '999: What's Your Emergency?' for an hour. Not even the Budweiser frogs could undo the memory of that...

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