NBC’s moratorium on hard liquor advertising
Statement of George A. Hacker, Director, Alcohol Policies Project, Center for Science in the Public Interest
We applaud NBC’s restoration of responsible broadcast standards that, for more than five decades, have provided liquor-free network television and protected young people from promotions to drink liquor. NBC’s action sends a message to the entire cable and broadcast television industry – not just to the other national networks – that hard-liquor commercials don’t belong on television.
When NBC started advertising liquor in December, it asserted that it would provide leadership for the many local and cable broadcasters that now air liquor ads, often without adequate standards. Now that NBC has returned to its former position of refusing liquor ads, it has finally adopted the best standard. We encourage other television and radio broadcasters to do the same.
NBC’s turnaround represents a significant victory for public health and children’s advocates, as well as for members of Congress who opposed NBC’s "race to the bottom." In particular, we thank Representatives Frank Wolf and Lucille Roybal-Allard for their hard work and for making the protection of children and families their highest priority.
Unfortunately, NBC’s action fails to address a whole new category of heavily marketed malt beverages that will be educating young people and others about liquor brands in the coming months. Such brands as Smirnoff, Bacardi, Stolichnaya, Captain Morgan, Sauza, and Jack Daniels, all marketed as malt beverages, will get significant exposure, despite the revival of NBC’s liquor-advertising ban.
NBC’s action leaves unaddressed the television advertising of America’s most popular and destructive legal drug, beer. Real reform of standards for alcohol advertising must include substantial restrictions on the ability of brewers to interest millions of underage persons in their brand names and products. NBC’s decision has not ended the debate on televised alcohol advertising. It has only pointed the way toward considering the real problem.
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).