Alcohol and Betting Radio Advertising in Spain. A Comparative Analysis of the Minor’s Protection Time Slot from a Media Responsibility Perspective

Salvador Perelló-Oliver 1, Clara Muela-Molina 1 and Luis M. Romero-Rodríguez 1,2,*

  1. 1  Department of Communication Sciences and Sociology, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, 28492 Madrid, Spain; (S.P.-O.); (C.M.-M.)

  2. 2  ESAI Business School, Universidad de Especialidades Espítiru Santo, Guayaquil 092301, Ecuador

* Correspondence:

Received: 18 October 2020; Accepted: 25 November 2020; Published: 29 November 2020

Aim: This research analyzes the presence of advertising and radio mentions of alcoholic beverages and sports betting, two products that represent harmful behaviors for the audiences’ health. To do this, a quantitative content analysis was undertaken for all of the programming of the three most listened radio stations in Spain (Cadena Ser, COPE, and Onda Cero) throughout 2017, obtaining a total corpus of 2848 radio messages distributed as follows: 266 radio spots and 2582 radio mentions. The messages were also analyzed according to the broadcasting schedules (protected time-slot or non-protected time-slot). The results showed that advertising and sports betting mentions were more present in the regular programming of the three stations (n = 2304), with mentions (n = 2582) being more numerous than advertising spots (n = 544). Moreover, it is evident that in practice, none of the radio stations respected the protected time slots since the majority of the mentions and spots of high alcoholic beverages and sports bets were verified between 6:00–21:59 (n = 2522). These results show the prevailing need for greater control over this type of content by public entities, demonstrating a significant lack of regulation by the media’s self- control mechanisms.

Keywords: radio mentions; radio advertisement; media responsibility; betting advertisement; alcohol advertisement; health communication; media self-control; media regulations; protected time-slots; consumer behavior

1. Introduction

Research questions (RQ):

  • RQ 1: What is the presence of spirits drinks and betting advertising on news/talk radio stations?

  • RQ 2: What is the presence of spirits drinks and betting advertising by format on news/talk radio stations?

  • RQ 3: Do news/talk radio stations respect the minor protection time slot in the case of broadcast spirits drinks and betting advertising?

  • RQ 4: Is there any relation between news/talk radio stations and minor protection time slots by different advertising formats?

2. Materials and Methods

The methodology chosen to develop this work followed a quantitative approach based on content analysis, enabling the objective and systematic content description [58] of all radio spots and mentions broadcast throughout 2017 in Spain. We chose the news/talk radio station format since the program content is based on news and current affairs and listeners pay more attention to radio information than music. The selection of the stations followed two criteria: national coverage and Spanish-language broadcasting. According to data from the Estudio General de Medios [Media General Study] (EGM) [59], the stations with the highest audience levels were Cadena Ser, Cadena Cope, and Onda Cero, with a total of 9,000,000 daily listeners.

Another methodological decision was to differentiate the analysis according to the two most frequent advertising formats in Spanish radio, but with significant differences regarding their broadcast and characteristics: (1) radio spots were defined as a pre-recorded message between 20 and 30 s long broadcast during a commercial break and separated from the programming so listeners can distinguish between advertising and editorial contents; and (2) radio mentions were advertisements read live by the presenters, team, or co-workers of programs embedded within the programming, usually with an absence of content separation lines or sonic triggers that would warn listeners of its commercial nature. Thus, this advertising format involves some ethical concerns. The final corpus was comprised of a total of 2848 radio messages distributed as follows: 266 radio spots and 2582 radio mentions.

3. Results

The analysis results linked the variables that articulated the research questions from the set of all radio spots and radio mentions broadcast during 2017 on high-grade alcoholic beverages (544) and online and sports betting (2304), with a total of 2848 advertisements analyzed.

These data show that the main radio stations in Spain broadcast advertising for high alcoholic beverages and sports betting, mainly through the format of mentions, and did not respect the legal limitations established by the schedule for the protection of minors.

4. Discussion

This study joins other previous ones that have shown that radio journalists in Spain do not respect one of the main ethical principles that regulate their profession’s practice, which is the one referring to their participation in advertising.

5. Conclusions

The advertising of alcoholic beverages, and especially sports betting, takes on a role that has never been known before, entering into serious contradiction with the current legislation. It is precisely the need to finance increasingly expensive radio productions, for more and more hours, which explains the broadcasting of this type of advertising in unauthorized time slots, especially on weekends. However, the media’s necessary financing cannot be achieved by skipping professional ethical codes and behaving irresponsibly toward the audience, which in this research was predominantly adult. Nevertheless, even minors and young people can be impacted by undesirable advertising, as previous studies have shown [25,55].

This exposure to advertising of these types of products can generate false expectations and incorrectly educate them given the associations with which advertising presents the consumption of spirits drinks and betting.

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