UK Government Unsympathetic to TV Ban on Alcohol Ads

21 July 2008

LONDON: The advertising of alcohol brands prior to the so-called TV 'watershed' hour of 9pm – at which children are fatuously presumed to cease watching television – has found few opponents within the UK's Department for Culture, Media and Sport, according to a report in London's Evening Standard.

A carefully leaked DCMS memorandum vigorously opposes a pre-watershed ban on alcohol advertising, describing its claimed beneficial effects as "completely speculative".

The document also raises doubt that such a ban would curtail so-called 'binge drinking' by youths of both sexes, opining that "under 18s probably watch post 9pm ads anyway". 

The government's lack of enthusiasm for such a ban is attributable to the the effect it would have on the nation's commercial channels.

The leaked document claims that such a prohibition would deprive the TV industry of up to £100 million ($199.85m; €126.05m) in annual ad revenues.

While the Treasury itself would suffer considerable lost income from duty on alcohol. 

However, the DCMS view conflicts with that of public health officials and individual MPs who have been lobbying for a pre-watershed ban on alcohol ads. They are also worried that the ersatz-cool ethos of booze commercials attracts under-18s to drink.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff