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The attorney general of Alaska has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to adopt a rule prohibiting TV and radio stations from broadcasting ads for hard liquor.

While FCC Chairman Reed Hundt has attacked the liquor industry for seeking TV and radio ad exposure, Alaska's filing is the first request asking the FCC to take formal legal action. The Illinois attorney general was considering a similar request, insiders said.


Meanwhile, Grand Metropolitan's Paddington Corp., as expected, is readying TV spots for its Baileys Original Irish Cream to test in December (AA, Oct. 7).

Paddington has directed its agency, Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, to re-edit a 2-year-old 60-second European commercial, originally created by another agency, for U.S. broadcast. Creative does not parallel Baileys' existing print ads, though the "Yum" tagline may be used at the end.

Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, who has called upon the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. to reinstate its voluntary ban on TV and radio advertising, said in a statement that "the matter is of huge importance to Alaska, especially to teen-agers and young people who are susceptible to radio and TV ads promoting hard liquor." Alcoholism is also a serious problem of Alaskan Natives.

"Rapid action by the commission is needed to prevent an escalation of alcohol abuse and resultant injuries and fatalities," the petition said.

Though the petition makes no mention of beer and wine ads, Assistant Attorney General Stephen C. Slotnick said there are two factors the courts could cite to uphold a rule banning hard-liquor ads but not beer and wine commercials.


"First, there's the argument of the status quo, that hard liquor hasn't been advertised on TV and radio," he explained. "Secondly, hard liquor is indeed more potent."

DISCUS has argued distilled spirits are legal products and should have the same access to TV and radio as other alcoholic beverages. The amount of alcohol in a mixed drink is the same as in a glass of beer or wine, it says.

Contributing: Pat Sloan, Bill McDowell.

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