Adverts promoting alcohol brands could finally face legal restrictions in the United Kingdom after Ofcom (the government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting industry) said it requires advertising regulators to review the rules that limit their exposure to children. The request follows an Ofcom report which shows that the number of alcohol adverts children see has risen.

Ofcom asked the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) to review whether tougher curbs on alcohol advertising are needed. It follows findings from Ofcom research, commissioned by the Government as part of its Alcohol Strategy, which found that children saw an average of 3.7 alcohol adverts per week in 2010 and 3.2 in 2011, compared with 2.7 in 2007.

In accordance, the ASA has launched an investigation to uncover breaches to scheduling rules during this period and will take retrospective action on those advertisers found to have broken rules. Additionally, BCAP said it will review existing scheduling rules to ensure they are clear and easy to follow. The recommendations are to be published in October.

The plans have been welcomed by health experts, who say online advertising needs further restrictions, to limit children’s exposure to alcohol marketing.

Eric Appleby, chief executive of Alcohol Concern was quoted by, saying: ‘Clearly allowing industry to regulate itself isn’t working. – a recent study by Alcohol Concern showed children are more familiar with alcohol brands than with those for ice cream and cakes.’

Appleby went on to say: “While our Youth Alcohol Advertising Council works really hard to identify and complain about adverts which they feel cross the line, the process is slow, reactive and feels like it’s working in the favour of alcohol advertisers.”

In reaction, the ISBA shrugs off the gravity of the Ofcom report, by calling the increase in youth exposure ‘comparatively small’ and pointing out that alcohol use among underage drinkers has fallen over the last decade. This last point was accompanied with the statement that this is evidence for the effectiveness of the self0regulatory system.

source: Marketingweek 05/24/13

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