Game, set and match… or at least it should be.

Regular readers of GrogWatch will know, for years we have been calling for regulators to take action and close a ridiculous loop hole in the current Commercial TV Code of Practice that allows alcohol to be shown during children’s viewing hours on the weekend or public holidays if it’s part of a live sport simulcast.

This loophole must be changed because as we all recognise, advertising alcohol to children is wrong and we know that protecting kids from starting to drink early is one of the best ways we can help them avoid potentially devastating and deadly problems with alcohol later in life.

We know that given half a chance Big Alcohol will plaster sport with alcohol ads – in fact analysis of just three One Day International Cricket matches undertaken by Cancer Council Victoria and the University of Wollongong counted more than 4600 incidents of alcohol advertising culminating in nearly 9 hours of total alcohol ad exposure.


That’s just not cricket.

Last week we told you about how Free TV Australia want to roll back the times they show M-rated programmes and commercials to 7.30pm. As if this isn’t bad enough, Free TV also want to make it easier for commercial TV stations to cash in on Big Alcohol’s deep pockets in return for being able to plaster televised live and pre-recorded sport with booze ads.

Currently they have the loophole mentioned earlier allowing alcohol ads during weekend daytime live sports broadcasts. Instead of recognising the harm possible by exposing young people to alcohol advertising, and closing the loophole, they in fact want to do the opposite and make it open slather; allowing alcohol ads in any sports broadcast at anytime on any day.

If they have their way and the community don’t make a fuss about this, it will mean alcohol ads could be shown first thing in the morning during coverage of the Australia Open Tennis — or in the afternoon, as kids are watching TV after school.

Unbelievably that’s not all they want. FreeTV also propose changing the definition of what constitutes an alcohol ad. A “program sponsorship announcement” wouldn’t be classified as an alcohol ad and neither would a commercial that is spruiking a distributor, seller or manufacturer of alcohol as long as they aren’t specifically advertising an alcoholic product.

Irelandand New Zealand are considering bans on sponsorship of sport by alcohol brands. France already do. It’s time we drew a line in the sand and said enough is enough.

Before registering the Code, the Australian Communications and Media Authority must be satisfied that it provides appropriate community safeguards.

If you agree with GrogWatch and think the proposed Code does not provide appropriate safeguards to protect kids from alcohol advertising, then do something about it.

Write or email FreeTV before 3 April. And don’t forget to send a copy to ACMA so they know the community are not happy with it.