Children are being exposed to excessive levels of advertising by alcohol companies that are able to use live sporting events to advertise outside of the 8:30pm watershed.
Live sporting events, such as this weekend's car race at Mt Panorama, Bathurst (NSW), do not have bans on alcohol advertising because of a loophole in the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice, according to Craig Sinclair, Director of Cancer Council Victoria's Cancer Prevention Centre.
"Advertising alcohol fuels pro-drinking attitudes in children. It persuades them that these products are attractive, glamorous and risk-free - whereas in reality, alcohol causes 13 percent of all deaths among 14-17 year olds.
"These live sporting events not only have alcohol promotions in the ad breaks, they also have alcohol sponsorship right through the event coverage which introduces and familiarises children with alcohol brands and promotes drinking.
"Last year 116,000 children and young people aged 5-17 tuned into the live coverage of the race and were exposed to up to nine alcohol ads in the last two hours of the event. This is in addition to the considerable incidental alcohol sponsorship and branding viewed during the race itself," said Mr Sinclair.
Cancer Council Victoria calculates that children and young people were exposed to a total of approximately 34 minutes of direct alcohol advertising and promotion during the telecast of the 2008 race and this is expected to be similar this year with a new alcohol sponsor coming on board.
"It is accepted that children should be protected from alcohol advertising, however, Free TV that administers the Code continues to support a loophole which enables alcoholic beverages to be advertised during live sporting events on weekends and public holidays.
"The Code, which is currently under review, is in complete conflict with other regulations such as the Children's Television Standards which strictly prohibit alcohol advertising when children are watching TV. The Code should to be updated to remove the exclusion that permits alcohol producers from advertising during broadcasts of live sporting events," said Mr Sinclair.
Throughout 2008, alcohol companies spent $109 million on advertising. Last year‘s V8 supercars in Bathurst was sponsored by a combination of six alcohol producers and retailers as well as advertising in the breaks by three alcohol brands.
"Research consistently shows that the more alcohol advertising children and young people are exposed to, the more likely they are to drink. Drinking alcohol from a young age is harmful and can lead to an increased risk of certain cancers. Allowing this loophole to persist is endangering the long-term health and lives of our young people.
"Another concern is that the event is most popular with boys and young men who will soon be driving themselves. We know that men accounted for 82 percent of all deaths where the driver had a blood alcohol reading over the legal limit in 2008. Permiting a loophole like this perpetuates the dangerous myth that motor sports and alcohol, go together," said Mr Sinclair.
 Adnews, Top Advertisers 2008, 27 March 2009
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