Spirits industry pledges year-long ban on daytime sports advertising

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 3rd April 2009

The spirits sector has agreed to ban alcohol advertising during sporting events before 9pm, after carrying through with a pledge to Family First’s Steve Fielding to ban daytime sports advertising for a year after the alcopops bill was not passed.

“The Distilled Spirits Industry has agreed to cut alcohol advertising during sports events in family viewing time before 9pm and they will lobby other industry groups to do the same,” Senator Fielding advised. “This is a significant breakthrough and one Family First has negotiated because the Rudd Government simply wouldn’t even try to work with the industry on this.”

“This will break the link between sports and alcohol and will tackle the cultural mindset in Australia that links sport and booze,” he suggested. “The government can no longer claim it doesn’t have support of the industry and that it is too hard to shut down this link allowing alcohol ads to be shown during family viewing time when a large section of the industry has already agreed to those measures and wants the government to legislate.”

The ban will apply for one year from July 1, with the impact to be evaluated before any further commitments are made by the industry.

“The initiative follows a long-committed campaign by Family First senator (Steve) Fielding to develop a comprehensive anti-binge-drinking strategy that includes a ban on alcohol TV advertising before 9pm and enhanced warning labels for alcohol products,” The Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia advised in a statement.

Senator Fielding, who blocked the controversial alcopops tax last month because the government refused to include a ban on daytime sports advertising, is now calling for legislation to make the ban a permanent one.

Mr Fielding contends that the failed legislation, which could yet return to the Senate for another vote in May, was merely a tax grab.

“I spoke with Health Minister Nicola Roxon today at her instigation and told her the government’s determination to use a tax grab to tackle Australia’s binge drinking culture demonstrated that the government just doesn’t understand the enormity of this problem,” he said. “The Rudd government’s plan to introduce a $3 billion tax on all alcohol shows that the government has missed the mark again.”

Health Minister Nicola Roxon maintains that their bill, which raised the tax on ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages, had been successful in tackling binge drinking and left the door open to introducing the legislation to the Senate for another vote in May.

“The measure remains good policy and we are examining our legislative options,” she said.

There have been rumours that the Federal Budget, to be announced in May, may include new alcohol taxation measures as the Federal Government struggles to find new revenue sources to counter an ever increasing sea of red.