Today leading health groups launched a new satirical video (Alcohol Ad Shame) to highlight the absurdity of alcohol advertising during times when large numbers of children and young people are watching television.
The video launches as new figures released by the group show that the recent AFL and rugby league grand finals were two of the highest rating programs for under 18 year olds in all capital cities in Australia.
Sondra Davoren, representing a coalition of public health agencies, said: "Research shows us that alcohol marketing on TV is saturating places and times when children are watching, particularly during sporting events like the NRL finals series and the AFL grand final. Sporting broadcasts are extremely popular with children, who watch them in greater numbers than cartoons. In 2012, 18 per cent of the NRL's grand final broadcast contained some form of alcohol promotion and the 2012 AFL grand final featured a similar amount of alcohol advertising."
Alcohol advertising on commercial television is usually banned during children's viewing hours and may only be shown between 8:30pm and 5:00am. An exemption allows alcohol companies to promote their products during live sport broadcasts regardless of the time of the day. For example, an estimated 388,000 Australian children were watching the live telecast of the 2013 AFL grand final and were therefore exposed to a huge amount of alcohol advertising.
"Every weekend, almost half of all alcohol ads are aired before 8.30 pm, when kids are watching in large numbers. If alcohol advertising doesn't belong during kids' cartoons, why is it okay during live sport when it is likely more children will be watching? It's about time something was done to protect Australian children from alcohol marketing," said Ms Davoren.
The health groups behind the Alcohol Ad Shame video have contacted Free TV and the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, expressing concern about the current flawed self-regulatory system governing alcohol advertising on commercial television.
"We are echoing calls from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) for a Parliamentary Inquiry into alcohol advertising and promotion and the ways that it targets young people. There is an urgent need for a rethink of the way alcohol is marketed and promoted in Australia. We urge Free TV and the Minister for Communications to close the exemption that allows alcohol to be advertised during live sport," said Ms Davoren.
Research has found that children who regularly see alcohol advertising are more likely to start drinking at a younger age and drink at harmful levels as an adult . And the more alcohol advertising that a young person sees, the more alcohol they are likely to drink. Drinking from a young age damages the human brain, and increases the risk of having alcohol problems as a teenager and an adult.
adShame partner, the Alcohol Advertising Review Board's 2013 annual report, showed that current voluntary self-regulation is unable to stop alcohol companies from targeting young people.
There is strong community support for restricting alcohol advertising from times and in places where it is likely to reach a significant number of children and young people.
The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Evaluation's 2013 Alcohol Poll found that two-thirds of Australians support a ban on alcohol advertising on television before 8.30pm.
A recent survey undertaken by the Salvation Army indicated that 73% of Australians believe that alcohol and sport have become too closely related in Australia today.
For more information and to view the video, visit www.adShame.org.au .
‘adShame' is a digital platform intended to illustrate the worst examples of alcohol and food marketing, which currently are not caught by the self-regulatory framework for advertising in Australia.
The aim of the new website is to empower Australian parents and ensure their voices are heard loudly and clearly. We want to hear from them about misleading and unhealthy advertising so we can advocate for changes to laws and industry behaviour on their behalf.
adShame will showcase all ad submissions of unhealthy food and alcohol advertisements targeting children and adolescents. By exposing the sheer extent of the problem, the site will demonstrate that the food and alcohol industry's self-regulatory scheme has seriously failed to protect children and adolescents from the harm of unhealthy food and alcohol advertising.
The Alcohol Ad Shame video will be promoted through Facebook and YouTube advertising.
The adShame website is supported by a number of health organisations including Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education, The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association, Alcohol Advertising Review Board, McCusker Centre for Alcohol on Alcohol and Youth, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre, Cancer Council Victoria, Game Changer, Obesity Policy Coalition and The Parents' Jury.
These health groups believe that legislation is urgently needed in Australia to protect children from the detrimental effects of unhealthy food and alcohol advertising.