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Stop Liquor Ads on NBC

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Swisher Ain't Sweet

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Marlboro Mild

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HOME > 2002 STOP LIQUOR ADS ON NBC > PENNSYLVANIA CALL TO ACTION

STOP Liquor Ads on NBC-Pennsylvania

History: For 50 years, distillers (people who make hard liquor) have observed a voluntary ban on television advertising. In 1996, distillers abandoned their voluntary action, and some cable and independent channels accepted liquor ads. When the economy was good in the late 1990s, television networks continued to refuse liquor advertising. However, networks did accept advertising for malt beverages that carry a distiller's name, such as Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Coolers. In December 2001, faced with declining revenue, NBC announced its decision to rescind the ban and allow liquor advertising with certain guidelines.

What's the problem: Even with the guidelines, millions of American children will see these ads. Research shows both that television is a powerful influence on children and that alcohol advertisements increase consumption (and conversely, a lack of alcohol advertisements decreases consumption). Underage drinking is a public health problem. Our airways are a public trust, and media operations should listen to the fact that most people oppose liquor ads on television because they are concerned about their effect on our children.

Under NBC's guidelines, a liquor company would have to sponsor public service announcements (PSAs) before being allowed to advertise and then continue them during the period of time when their ads are running. The problem with PSAs that contain a brand name is that they are also an advertisement for that company's product-unlike a PSA from an organization like the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Even advertisements for malt beverages that carry a distiller's name, so called alco-pops because they are sweet and appeal to kids, also put the brand name for Smirnoff's vodka and Bacardi's rum into the minds of children.

What you can do: Groups throughout Pennsylvania and across the nation have come together to form a coalition, STOP Liquor Ads on NBC. The purpose of the coalition is to educate decision-makers at NBC in New York, station managers at NBC affiliates and the general public about why adding liquor ads to television programming is a bad idea. The goal is to get NBC to rescind its decision to air liquor ads and reinstate the voluntary ban.

Four NBC affiliates-KLS in Utah, WKYC in Ohio and two stations in Maine, WCSH and WLBZ-have refused to broadcast the liquor ads and are replacing them with public service announcements.

You can get involved by working with the people who have volunteered to coordinate local efforts with each of the six affiliates in Pennsylvania. You can also contact the general manager of the NBC affiliate that you watch, the president of NBC in New York and the vice chairman of General Electric, which owns NBC. Contact information is attached for these people. If you don't already know who is coordinating local efforts in your area, contact Felicity DeBacco-Erni at fdebacco@state.pa.us or 800-537-6531.

For information: The American Medical Association has gathered research about youth, alcohol and television at www.liquorfreetv.com. You'll find the results of a poll that says most Americans don't want to see these ads on television, the history behind liquor ads on television, facts about youth and alcohol and links to other websites with great information. For those who cannot access these websites, here are some of the highlights.

Americans don't want liquor ads on television: When asked in December 2001, 72 percent of Americans supported the networks that are still honoring the voluntary ban, ABC, CBS, Fox, WB and UPN. Sixty-eight percent opposed the decision by NBC to show liquor ads on television. Seventy percent of those surveyed think it is dangerous to have liquor ads on television because these ads will introduce those under 21 to liquor. Sixty-two percent are concerned that one of the first liquor ads will appear on "Saturday Night Live," which is watched by young people.

Liquor and television: Ten percent of American televisions are located in children's bedrooms. Children and teenagers watch an average of three hours of television each day. Researchers have consistently found a positive correlation between youth exposure to alcohol advertising and drinking or the intention to drink.

Youth and alcohol: There are problems when children and teenagers use the drug alcohol. Pennsylvanians Against Underage Drinking has a website, www.AlcoholFreeYouth.org, with facts about kids and alcohol and links to other sites with lots of information. Here are the highlights:

· By the eighth grade, 52 percent of children have tried alcohol.
· Thirty-seven percent of eighth graders who drink heavily attempt suicide, while 11 percent of non-drinking eighth graders attempt suicide.
· More than 40 percent of those who begin alcohol consumption at age 13 or younger will develop alcohol dependence.
· Early alcohol consumption is a bigger problem than early cigarette consumption: 40 percent of ninth graders reported having consumed alcohol before they were 13; by contrast, 27 percent of ninth graders reported having smoked cigarettes before age 13 and 13 percent used marijuana before age 13.
· Researchers found that those who begin drinking alcohol before age 17 were three to four times more likely to have been in a fight after consuming alcohol, when compared to adults who began drinking after age 21.
· By the 12th grade, 80 percent of American youth have used alcohol.
· Among young adults aged 18 to 25 years, 19.9 percent drove under the influence of alcohol in 2000. In the same study, about 9.7 million people aged 12 to 20 reported drinking alcohol in the month prior to the survey (27.5 percent of the age group). Of this age group, 18.7 percent were binge drinkers.
· Forty-four percent of US college students engaged in binge drinking during the two weeks before they were surveyed in the Harvard College Alcohol Study.

Updated 2/12/02
There are six stations affiliated with NBC in Pennsylvania. Here is the contact information for the stations managers at the NBC affiliates. You can write one letter to the station manager and then send copies to the president of NBC in New York and the vice chairman of General Electric, which owns NBC:

Dennis Bianchi, General Manager
WCAU-TV 10 (Philadelphia)
10 Monument Road
Bala Cynwyd, 19004
610-668-5510
www.nbc10.com
General Electric Corporation
Lawrence P. Herbster, General Manager
WBRE-TV 28
PO Box 28
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18773
62 South Franklin Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701-1201
570-823-2828
www.wbre.com
Nexstar Broadcasting Group
Dick Schrott, General Manager
WJAC-TV 6
49 Old Hickory Lane
Johnstown, PA 15905-3367
814-255-7600
www.wjactv.com
Cox Enterprises, Inc.
Tim Noble, General Manager sjltim@wicu12.com
WICU-TV 12
3514 State Street
Erie, PA 16508-2834
814-454-5201
www.wicu12.com
SJL of Pennsylvania
Ray Carter, General Manager
WPXI-TV 11
11 Television Hill
Pittsburgh, PA 15214-1400
412-237-1100
www.wpxi.com
Direct, 412-237-1112
Cox Enterprises, Inc.
Robert C. Wright
Vice Chairman & Executive Officer, General Electric
Chairman & CEO, NBC
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Paul D. Quinn, General Manager
WGAL-TV 8
PO Box 7127
Lancaster, PA 17604
1300 Columbia Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17603
717-393-5851
333 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17105
18 South George Street
York, PA 17405
www.thewgalchannel.com
Hearst-Argyle Broadcasting

Andrew Lack, President
NBC
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112



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