Representatives of the UK alcoholic drinks industry are calling on regulators to clamp down on the sector's TV advertising.
The Portman Group -- an industry-funded body set up to promote sensible alcohol consumption -- believes authorities have failed to enforce the rules governing TV drinks ads. As a result, it argues many commercials now flout the code governing the industry.
Television advertising was overseen by government watchdog the Independent Television Commission until its recent incorporation into communications supra-regulator Ofcom. The Portman Group believes the ITC was less strict in its enforcement of the alcohol ad code than the Advertising Standards Authority, the self-regulatory body that handles non-broadcast ads.
"The TV advertising rules are very similar to the rules the Advertising Standards Authority applies and those in the Portman Group's code of practice," commented David Poley, the lobby group's director of policy. "But, for whatever reason, the TV regulator seems to have not interpreted the rules with the same degree of strictness as the self-regulating bodies, with the result that there are some things that happen on TV that wouldn't happen elsewhere."
Last month, the government ordered Ofcom to review the TV ad code for alcohol as part of a drive to reduce binge drinking [WAMN: 17-Mar-04]. The regulator will hold a public consultation on the subject later this year, and the Portman Group will use this opportunity to raise its concerns.
"The leading area where we would like to see a stricter interpretation of the rules is the strong sexual theme running through many TV commercials at the moment," continued Poley. "Ofcom also needs to look at whether advertisers are going too far in suggesting irresponsible or excessive consumption."
Under the ITC code inherited by Ofcom, advertisers are not allowed to suggest a link between alcohol consumption and social or sexual success.
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff