FTC reports on alcohol ad code compliance

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The Federal Trade Commission's report on the alcohol industry's compliance with its own industry ad codes, released publicly today, cites no specific problem but urges the industry to take major additional steps to limit its messages' impact on children. One new step suggested in the report is that the industry limit its ads to programming with much more of an adult audience. While the Beer Institute's current code suggests ads not be in media where "most of the audience is reasonably expected to be below the [minimum alcohol] purchase age," the FTC will ask the alcohol industry to aim higher.

There was no immediate indication that limiting ads to even more-adult-watched programming would have a substantial effect on ad placement even if approved by the alcohol industry. A Beer Institute spokesman said brewers' ads generally appear on programming whose adult share is well over 50%.

The FTC also will recommend in the report, which was requested by Congress, that the alcohol industry:

--Allow independent review of its enforcement of its ad codes.

--Develop a "set of best practices" that would apply across the board to all three separate codes that the beer, wine and distilled liquor segments currently have in place.

--Prohibit ads that have "substantial appeal" to kids even if the ads also appeal to adults or are targeted to people 25 or older, and limit product placement to R and NC-17 rated films.

A spokesman for the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. didn't return calls today, and both Beer Institute and Wine Institute spokesmen declined comment until seeing the report.

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