Since last month, new rulings by two state agencies prohibit Norwegian brewers from reviewing or depicting beer on their websites. The organizations in question, Aass Brewery and the Norwegian Brewery Association, are furious about what they call ´surreal´ verdicts.
The Norse Directorate of Health has previously ordered Aass Brewery to remove all images of foaming beer, all information about microbrewery beer, from its websites, together with any specific beer recommendations. Following the verdict of the Health Directorate, the Norwegian Marketing Council gave its full backing to the ruling that found Aass Brewery and the Norwegian Brewery Association guilty of violating the provisions of the Alcohol Act.
The website of the Norwegian Brewery Association meanwhile has been barred from publishing a beer selection tool that helps users choose suitable beers for different occasions. The association has also been ordered to remove any links to articles reviewing beer in the Norwegian media.
Moreover, the Marketing Council agreed with the directorate that a covered up beer picture on the association’s website was in breach of laws against alcohol advertising.
The Brewery Association has now reached out to health minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen (Labor Party) to work towards a change in the laws surrounding alcohol advertising. Chairman of the association, Petter Nome called the measures ´quite surreal´.
To thelocal.no he pointed out that it is entirely legal for star skier Emil Hegle Svendsen to appear on public television in skiwear advertising a German beer while Norwegian beer remains subject to ´total secrecy´ He also said to find it unfair that the state-run alcohol retail monopoly, Vinmonopolet, was free to describe its products in great detail, while the Brewery Association can only provide ´sober consumer information´ about low-alcohol beers.
In reaction to claims by the Association of Norwegian Editors that the rulings contravene the right to free speech, the Marketing Council noted that commercial speech enjoys ´a somewhat lower level of protection than other forms of speech in the societal discourse´.
Source: Thelocal.no 02/14/12