The House and Senate adjourned last week for a holiday recess lasting until January 27, the day of the State of the Union address. This unusually long break provides a timely opportunity for you to ask your Senators and Representative to support a Federal Communications Commission inquiry into broadcast liquor advertising.

Chairman William Kennard's announcement that he will pursue a Notice of Inquiry into liquor advertising on TV and radio has already drawn opposition from several quarters. Commissioner Michael Powell says that he is unsure if the FCC has a role in policy concerning liquor advertising. Some influential national figures, such as the chair of the House subcommittee overseeing the FCC, Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA), have also questioned FCC action.

Unless activists communicate strong support for an FCC inquiry, Tauzin and other members of the Commerce Committee may succeed in derailing the inquiry. Commissioner Powell also needs to hear that an FCC inquiry is the best way to answer his concerns and define the FCC's policy role.

FCC action has had the support of President Clinton, Attorney General Reno, 15 state attorneys general, former Surgeon General Koop, FCC Chairman Kennard and Commissioner Ness, and 250 organizations.

Your Senators and Representative need to be educated about the effects of broadcast liquor advertising on kids, briefed on the absence of federal action, alerted to escalating industry opposition, and asked to actively support the FCC Notice of Inquiry. (Non-profits may educate elected officials on issues, but certain restrictions apply to lobbying for legislation. Please contact your legal counsel if you have questions.)

Please call your Representative's and Senators' district offices for a meeting.

Remember that telephone calls are usually fielded by a staff member, not the member of Congress.

Ask to speak with the aide who handles alcohol or youth issues. After identifying yourself, tell the aide you would like to arrange a meeting (for yourself and no more than two others) to discuss the Senator's or Representative's support for the FCC inquiry into broadcast alcohol advertising. You should briefly state the reasons for your support and ask for your Senator's or Representative's position on the issue.

If you cannot arrange a meeting, ask for a schedule of public appearances in your area; you can always ask the legislator about liquor advertising during a public meeting. If you decide to write a letter, please consider these tips from Roll Call, a newspaper covering Congress:

1. Your purpose for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter.
2. Be courteous, to the point, and include key information, using examples to support your position.
3. Address only one issue in the letter; and, if possible, keep the letter to one page.

November 19, 1997