ATLANTA: US alcoholic drinks marketers have been accused of failing to regulate a voluntary ban on advertising to teenagers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the federal Department of Health, claims in a new report that around half of alcoholic beverage commercials broadcast on radio go out during teen-oriented shows, flouting a 2003 pledge by the industry to cease running ads on programs where 30% or more of the audience is under 21.

The researchers says they counted 67,404 beer, wine and liquor spots during the summer of 2004 and 49% of those ads were aired on youth-oriented programs.

Alternative rock and hip-hop were among the program formats that had the largest percentage of alcohol advertising.

Comments Dr Tim Naimi, a CDC epidemiologist who worked on the study with researchers from Georgetown University: "Kids in the US are exposed to a heck of a lot of alcohol advertising, and it impacts what they drink and how much they drink."

The industry, not surprisingly, has been quick to defend itself.

Ripostes Beer Institute president Jeff Becker: "Advertising is often purchased as much as a year in advance and some ads purchased before the code took effect may have run as late as December 2004."

He adds: "Overall compliance with our voluntary code was still very strong. This underscores the effectiveness of self-regulation and our members' ongoing commitment to responsible advertising."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff