To: Colleagues concerned about TV liquor advertising

From: George Hacker

Re: Possible FCC Inquiry -- Request for Letters

Date: October 24, 1996

In response to the Seagram Company's growing broadcast advertising campaign for its liquor products, Reed Hundt, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has begun to explore possible FCC action to protect children and teens from this unprecedented new alcohol advertising on television and radio. According to industry trade journals, Seagram's liquor ads now run in 25 television markets and on 50 radio stations, and may expand further before the end of the year.

Many broadcasters who have accepted the ads claim that they won't run them until 9:00 P.M., when fewer children are watching. Unfortunately, children and teens are constantly part of the audience. According to Nielsen Media Research, 18 million kids between 2 and 17 watch television between 9:00 and 9:30 P.M., the most popular prime-time segment. Those children account for 31% of all U.S. kids in that age group, and they comprise more than 17% of the viewing audience at that time. Just as beer ads reach millions of children throughout the day, the placement of the new liquor ads will do nothing to assure that they will not appeal to substantial numbers of young people. Such advertising, which breaches 50 years of adherence to a voluntary ban on broadcast liquor ads, represents a serious shortfall in broadcasters' compliance with statutory public interest responsibilities they shoulder in return for the use of public airwaves.

A recent poll from Eisner & Associates, a Baltimore advertising agency, reveals that most Americans are concerned about the prospect of liquor advertising on television. When exposed to the concept, 56% of the survey sample expressed concern about the ads, including 23% who said they were angered by them. Of those who noted concern about the ads, 78% believe the ads will encourage young people to drink, 71% think the ads will lead to more alcoholism, and 59% believe that liquor advertising may result in more drunk driving.

You can help to encourage the Federal Communications Commission to act to protect children from liquor ads on television. Please write today to Chairman Reed Hundt, Federal Communications Commission, 1919 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20554, supporting his statements challenging the ads and urging him to seek public comment and hold public hearings on the issue.

Send copies of your letter to:

Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA, 7th District), Ranking Minority Member
Telecommunications and Finance Subcommittee
House Commerce Committee
2133 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-2107

Representative Jack Fields (R-Texas, 8th District), Chairman
Telecommunications and Finance Subcommittee
House Commerce Committee
2228 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-4308

Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC), Ranking Minority Member
Communications Subcommittee
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
SR-125 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4002

Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD), Chairman
Communications Subcommittee
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
SR-243 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4101

You may wish to wait until after the elections to write, in case some of these legislators do not return. Also, kindly mail, fax, or e-mail CSPI a copy of your letter, as well as any responses you receive.

Alcohol Policies Project
Center for Science in the Public Interest
1220 L St, NW Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
202/265-4954 (fax)

Thank you for your assistance. Please redistribute this memo to others, encouraging them to express their position too.