The promotion of alcohol by radio stations across New Zealand is another form of advertising – and is contributing to the country’s heavy binge drinking culture, warns a health group.

Alcohol Healthwatch spokesperson Lizzie Barratt says due to loose alcohol advertising regulations, stations need to further regulate the promotion and advertising exposure to create awareness around safe alcohol consumption. “We know from experience that radio stations are not well-regulated for responsible alcohol brand promotion,” she says. “An example from ZM’s breakfast show that children are likely to be listening to on their way to school, which includes problematic promotions including naming the cheapest brands of alcohol and where they can be found.’’

Events such as ‘Crate Day’ get heavily promoted towards December by The Rock every year, causing controversy due to excessive binge drinking.

According to The New Zealand Health Group during Crate Day weekends in Waikato in 2019 and 2020, 100,000 people ended up at the emergency department due to alcohol related incidents. George FM’s latest event  ‘present a party experience like no other’ is sponsored by Heineken Silver while The Edge promoted the American RTD brand White Claws being introduced to the country for the very first time. Broadcasters can reshape public attitudes to alcohol, rather than simply catering to the alcohol industry’s demands, says Barratt. She adds “The media could be educating people about political lobbying, advertising, how the industry targets specific groups (especially youth), and the links between alcohol, poor health and social outcomes.” This can create better understanding about the country’s high drinking rates, shifting the blame away from irresponsible drinkers and towards industry actions and lacking regulations. 

According to the Broadcasting Standard Authorities “Broadcasters should observe restrictions on the promotion of alcohol appropriate to the programme genre being broadcast” meaning broadcasters should be mindful on how they promote the product, brand or consumption of alcohol. Dr Matt Mollgaard, AUT’s head of Screen, Audio & Journalism Department, says radio stations should be careful when promoting alcohol of trying not to encourage people to use it in a bad influential way. “Promoting alcohol is never going to be an easy one,” he said. 

LISTEN here: Dr Mollgaard on whether it is an ethical issue.

According to in New Zealand, one in three men and 19 per cent of women between 18-24 are likely to binge drink at least once a week.


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