105th CONGRESS

1st session

H.R. 1292

The 'Voluntary Alcohol Advertising Standards for Children Act'

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to authorize the establishment of a voluntary broadcasting code for alcohol advertising, and for other purposes.

 

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

April 10, 1997

Mr. KENNEDY of Massachusetts (for himself, Mr. HANSEN, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. MORAN of Virginia, and Ms. NORTON) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Commerce.

A BILL

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to authorize the establishment of a voluntary broadcasting code for alcohol advertising, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Voluntary Alcohol Advertising Standards for Children Act'.

SECTION 2. FINDINGS.

The Congress finds the following:

(1) Television advertising influences children's perception of the values and behavior that are common and acceptable in society.

(2) Television station operators and cable television system operators should follow practices in connection with the advertising of alcoholic beverages that take into consideration that television broadcast and cable advertising have established a uniquely pervasive presence in the lives of American children.

(3) The average American child is exposed to 25 hours of television each week and some children are exposed to as much as 11 hours of television a day.

(4) In 1995, alcohol producers, led by brewers, spent $682,600,000 advertising their products in the broadcast media. Much of that advertising appeared on sports programming, in prime time, or at other times when substantial numbers of underage persons were in the viewing and listening audience. Many of the themes used in the ads-- humor, parties, athletic pursuits-- have great appeal for young people. The most popular beer ads use animated characters, animals, or music which also amuse and attract children and teens.

(5) The current advertising codes of brewers and distillers, even when observed by industry members, provide inadequate standards to restrain most of the current advertising messages that reach young people and teach them to drink. These codes are unenforceable, do not apply to all alcohol companies, and institutionalize, rather than restrict, advertising practices that subject young people to massive, continuous, and persuasive inducements to drink. Although individual broadcast networks and independent stations have adopted standards governing the acceptance of advertising for alcoholic beverages, those standards lack uniformity, do not apply to all broadcasters, nor do they help shield large audiences of underage persons from alcohol promotions.

(6) Alcohol producers claim to have no interest in attracting underage persons, for whom the purchase and use of their products are illegal. The development of voluntary broadcast industry alcohol advertising standards to protect children would avoid broader government restrictions on alcohol advertising and permit alcohol producers to continue to legitimately promote their products to adult consumers. Therefore, enforceable voluntary broadcast standards provide a minimally restrictive, necessary condition on alcohol producer marketing activities, one that is consistent with their business missions and social responsibility.

SECTION 3. ESTABLISHMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF TELEVISION ADVERTISING CODES.

Part I of title III of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 301 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

SECTION 337. ESTABLISHMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF TELEVISION ADVERTISING CODES.

(a) AUTHORITY TO PRESCRIBE STANDARDS- Except as otherwise provided by this section, the Commission shall prescribe, on the basis of recommendations from an advisory committee established by the Commission, a code of conduct that limits the exposure and appeal to minors of alcoholic beverage advertisements in video programming, taking into consideration the content, frequency, timing, and program placement of such ads, as well as the role of public information messages about the risks of alcohol use by minors.

(b) ADVISORY COMMITTEE REQUIREMENTS- In establishing an advisory committee for purposes of subsection (a) of this section, the Commission shall:

(1) ensure that such committee is composed of parents, television broadcasters, cable operators, appropriate public interest groups, and other interested individuals from the private sector and is fairly balanced in terms of political affiliation, the points of view represented, and the functions to be performed by the committee;

(2) provide to the committee such staff and resources as may be necessary to permit it to perform its functions efficiently and promptly; and

(3) require the committee to submit a final report of its recommendations within one year after the date of the appointment of the initial members.

(c) ANTITRUST EXEMPTION-

(1) EXEMPTION- The antitrust laws shall not apply to any joint discussion, consideration, review, action, or agreement by or among persons in the television industry for the purpose of, and limited to, developing and disseminating a voluntary code designed to limit the exposure and appeal to minors of alcoholic beverage advertisements in video programming.

(2) LIMITATIONS- The exemption provided in paragraph (1)--

(A) shall not apply to any joint discussion, consideration, review, action, or agreement which results in a boycott of any person; and

(B) shall apply only to any joint discussion, consideration, review, action, or agreement engaged in only during the 1-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this section.

(d) ENFORCEMENT OF CODES BY FORFEITURE PENALTIES - For the purposes of sections 503 and 504 of this Act, any advertising code established pursuant to subsection (a) or (c) of this section shall be considered to be a regulation prescribed by the Commission pursuant to this Act.

(e) APPLICABILITY OF REQUIREMENT FOR COMMISSION TO PRESCRIBE CODE- The requirement of subsection (a) shall take effect 1 year after the date of enactment of this section, but only if the Commission determines, in consultation with appropriate public interest groups and interested individuals from the private sector, that--

(1) persons in the television industry have not, by such date, established and implemented a voluntary code of conduct that limits the exposure and appeal to minors of alcoholic beverage advertisements in video programming, taking into consideration the content, frequency, timing, and program placement of such ads, as well as the role of public information messages about the risks of alcohol used by minors; and

(2) such code is acceptable to the Commission.

(f) ANNUAL REPORT- The Commission shall include in each annual report pursuant to section 4(k) of this Act submitted after the date of enactment of this section an assessment of the extent to which a code established under subsection (a) or (c) of this section has been successfully implemented, and is rigorously complied with, by distributors of video programming.

(g) DEFINITIONS- For purposes of this section:

(1) The term `antitrust laws' has the meaning given it in subsection (a) of the first section of the Clayton Act (15 U.S.C. 12(a)), except that such term includes section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 45) to the extent that such section 5 applies to unfair methods of competition.

(2) The term `person in the television industry' means a television network, any entity which produces programming (including theatrical motion pictures) for telecasting or telecasts programming, the National Cable Television Association, the Association of Independent Television Stations, Incorporated, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Community Antenna Television Association, and each of the networks' affiliate organizations, and shall include any individual acting on behalf of such person.

(3) The term `video programming' has the meaning provided in section 602 of this Act.'.

 

To read George Hacker's comments on HR 1292, click here.

To read the CSPI press release on HR 1292, click here.