By Ian Neubauer
A call by NSW Health Minister John Della Bosca for more alcohol advertising bans on TV is misguided, according to Free TV Australia, an industry body representing commercial free-to-air TV licensees.
“In the rush to appear to be seen ‘to do something’ Mr Della Bosca has provided no evidence that his proposal will have any impact on the level of binge drinking that has aroused his concern,” said Free TV Australia CEO, Julie Flynn, in a statement to the press.
“Free TV broadcasters already have extensive restrictions on alcohol advertising, which are far stricter than those for any other media platform.”
Della Bosca described the liquor industry’s voluntary advertising code as a joke, saying tough new regulations, including a possible outright ban on alcohol advertising, will be mulled at a meeting of state and territory health ministers next month. He said states should to do more to combat alcoholism in Australia and not pass the buck to federalists.
But Flynn pointed out that broadcasting is a federal matter regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and should not be interfered with by the states. She said no evidence exists to show that extending a ban on alcohol advertising will reduce excessive alcohol consumption, which she claimed was a symptom of late-night trading and the proliferation of licensed venues.
“Further ad bans will also do nothing to ensure that responsible service of alcohol laws are observed. In fact, further limits on advertising on commercial free-to–air television will simply see advertisers transfer their spending to un-regulated areas of the media.”
Flynn added that if new restrictions are drafted, they should apply multilaterally across all advertising mediums.
Family First Senator Steve Fielding voiced similar sentiments in March, calling for the Government to examine whether radio and Internet advertising for alchol-based products should also be reviewed.
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