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Young cricket fans bombarded by alcohol advertising, as regulators move to relax alcohol advertising restrictions

Wednesday 4 March, 2015

Live broadcasts of One Day International and T20 matches are being hijacked by alcohol advertisers that are exploiting an exemption in the television broadcasting code and exposing young cricket fans to excessive amounts of alcohol advertising in the process.

A report by Cancer Council Victoria and the University of Wollongong reveals that viewers were exposed to more than 4600 incidents of alcohol promotion, during three of the five One Day International (ODI) cricket games in the 2013/14 season. This included ads during commercial breaks, fixed and electronic banner signage within the stadium, live announcements, broadcast sponsorship announcements, logos on players' uniforms and team banners, among other marketing tactics.

The research also reveals that during one of the T20 games analysed, one in every four ads shown was for an alcohol product or retailer.

At the height of the ICC Cricket World Cup, Cancer Council Victoria is calling for action to address the amount of alcohol advertising in sport, starting with removing the exemption in the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice. Currently the code allows alcohol advertising during live sports broadcasts, at times when it would otherwise be banned.

Alcohol advertising during analysed games of the cricket summer series 2013/14





One Day Internationals (x3 matches)



8 hours 47 minutes




Ashes Test (Brisbane)



1 hour 36 minutes




T20 (x2 matches)


17 minutes








10 hours 40 minutes




*Note not every game in the series was analysed.

"Alcohol promotion during live sports broadcasts is a major cause for concern particularly as children and young people form a large part of the cricket viewing audience, especially when it comes to T20 games," said Sondra Davoren, senior legal policy adviser for Cancer Council Victoria.

"In 2009, the National Preventative Health Taskforce recommended that alcohol promotions in sport be phased out as a way to protect children and young people from the harmful effects of alcohol advertising, but we've still seen no action in this area."

The report coincides with a recently announced review of the code that proposes to allow alcohol advertising in earlier time slots, from 7.30 pm. Under the current code of practice, alcohol ads may not be shown before 8.30 pm, unless as an accompaniment to live sports broadcasts.

"The alcohol advertisers' own code stipulates that they will not market alcohol in a way that appeals strongly to children and young people. What kind of message are we sending to young people if every time they see their sporting heroes on television they are essentially acting as mobile billboards for alcohol?" Ms Davoren said.

Alcohol consumption is related to significant short and long term health problems such as injury, car accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, strokes and cancer. Evidence shows that exposure of children and young people to alcohol advertising leads to earlier initiation of alcohol use and more frequent and heavy drinking by young Australians, and patterns of harmful drinking later in life.

Ms Davoren cited the current ICC Cricket World Cup as a perfect example of a major sports event that could run without the need for alcohol advertising and sponsorship.

"Alcohol promotion and sport should not go hand in hand and Australia needs to step up. In France, for example, they have a complete ban on alcohol advertising in sport, and we've already seen moves from Ireland, the UK, and South Africa to make steps to phase out alcohol sponsorship in the sporting arena. It's time Australia stepped up to that challenge too" said Ms Davoren.

In comparison to the Ashes and T20 games, the Cancer Council Victoria report found that alcohol promotion was most prevalent during the ODI series with viewers exposed to more than 4,600 ads and sponsorship mentions, equating to nearly nine hours of advertising over the three matches analysed. The biggest advertiser was series sponsor, Carlton United, with a total of 4,349 incidences of advertising, including fixed and electronic banner signage within the stadium and visible team sponsorship on uniforms and banners. Others advertisers included VB, Hardys, Fosters, Crown Larger and BWS.

About the research:

The research, Alcohol and Junk Food Advertising during the cricket summer series 2013/14, was commissioned by Cancer Council Australia and was undertaken by the Centre for Health Initiatives at Wollongong University. A selection of cricket matches from the One Day International series, the Ashes series and the T20 International series were coded for advertising frequencies or rates (i.e. alcohol ads/hour) and total exposure time for alcohol marketing/alcohol brand messages.