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NBC ditches plan to run liquor commercials

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  1. Content Restrictions

    NMU         NEW YORK         Broadcasting         Mar 26, 2002    

NBC ditches plan to run liquor commercials

  • In response to intense criticism from lawmakers and public interest groups, NBC has opted not to continue airing distilled liquor advertisements.

Three months after airing the first liquor ad on network television in more than 50 years, NBC decided to halt further plans to broadcast advertisements for distilled spirits.

In a statement, NBC officials said both the House and Senate commerce committees asked the network to reconsider its plans to air liquor advertising or risk explaining its liquor advertising policies in congressional hearings.

“We have agreed to do that,” the officials said in the March 20 statement. “We’ve said from the beginning that we want to be responsible on this issue. We are therefore ending the first phase of branded social responsibility advertising on our network and will not proceed into the next phase of carrying product advertising for distilled spirits.”

Such ads ran on more than 2,000 radio stations and cable television programs since 1996 when the distilled spirits industry said it would no longer abide by a voluntary agreement to not run such ads, an agreement that had been in place since 1948.

In December, NBC became the first network to drop the voluntary ban, announcing a deal it made with Diageo PLC, a British spirits company. NBC aired a Smirnoff vodka ad during a showing of “Saturday Night Live.”

As part of the agreement between NBC and Diageo, all liquor ads aired over the next four months would only include “socially responsible” messages warning against alcohol abuse. Every fifth ad after that would have included such a message.

All of the ads would be aired after 9 p.m. Eastern time or during late-night programming, presumably when most children would not be watching television.

The distilled spirits industry expressed disappointment in NBC’s change of heart.

“NBC and Diageo are to be commended for responsible alcohol advertising,” said Peter Cressy, president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. “There would have been more social responsibility messages about drinking on television than ever before. Sadly, a few misguided critics through their attacks on NBC have undercut this effort.”


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