TV alcohol ads under scrutiny in UK


Kids watching TVThe United Kingdom has rules in place which prevent the placement of alcohol advertising on programs designed to appeal to children, but as children have been watching a greater amount of programming aimed at adults, the rules on such ads are getting a look.

According to The Guardian, Ofcom is looking into the matter (Ofcom is the British FCC).

To Americans, who might see three or four beer commercials during halftime of a typical NFL football game, the statistic that has the UK worked up might seem less than alarming. But here it is: At the end of the five year period between 2007-2012, those under the age of 18 in the UK are seeing 19% more alcohol commercials. That may sound alarming, but it results in them seeing 3.2 such commercials a week.

The fact that more and more children are sitting down to watch adult programs is getting the blame. Two such programs are basically familiar to American audiences since versions crossed to pond to US television sets. They are Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor.

However, a spokesperson for those programs pointed out that even though those programs are entitled to run alcohol ads, they don’t.

There are other factors to be considered, and they will be as Ofcom kicks off its study.

RBR-TVBR observation: Even with the First Amendment in place here in the US, it is a fact that commercial speech does not enjoy the same level of protection that the speech of an average individual citizen is proffered. And when it comes to regulating advertising or commercial speech, the magic word is children. Protecting children is one of the primary objectives of regulating advertising (along with preventing false advertising).

The call has gone out in the US in recent years to limit not only alcohol advertising from children’s media diet, but also ads for fast food and sugary or salty food items.

So far nothing has come remotely close to becoming the law of the land in the US, but the topic continually comes up. The best way to keep commercial messaging as free as possible is to make a genuine attempt to avoid advertising that takes advantage of our youngest citizens who are not yet able to make wise consumption decisions.