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Televised liquor ads draw Congressional attention

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Televised liquor ads draw Congressional attention10/21/96

Televised liquor ads draw Congressional attention

10/21/96

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) in early October asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the effects hard liquor television advertisements could have on children and requested a public hearing on the matter after Seagram America began airing commercials in June in Texas and New Hampshire. Kennedy had previously introduced legislation — titled the “Just Say No Act” — that would have banned hard liquor advertisements on television.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, Kennedy requested “an immediate investigation of the problem.”

“We believe television advertising of hard liquor is clearly detrimental to our children and the public interest,” Kennedy wrote.

For the past 48 years, the liquor industry has abided by a voluntary ban of television advertising established by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Seagram’s decision to air commercials for Crown Royal whiskey on a Corpus Christi, Texas television station is the first time a hard liquor company has broken ranks with the industry. The commercials have aired on KRIS-TV after 9 p.m. and are now airing in select markets across the country.

Bevin Gove, Seagram’s spokeswoman, said the decision to air the commercials developed from a long-term planning process and that the “time was right” for the company to begin its electronic advertising campaign.

The advertisement that currently is running carries a “responsibility message” that reads, “Those who appreciate quality enjoy it responsibly.” The message appears on print advertisements as well, Gove noted.

Although the company has not publicly responded to Kennedy’s legislation, Gove said it obviously does not agree with his statements.

“We have an obligation as makers of distilled spirits to be responsible marketers and that’s something we take very seriously,” she said.

Hundt has yet to respond directly to Kennedy’s request, but issued a statement calling the advertising decision a “troubling new development.” Hundt said he will ask the commission to consider the issue. (H.R. 3644)