Alcohol Bill to cut media ad revenue by €20m

The Government’s Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will slash media ad revenue by €20 million with Ireland’s outdoor advertising industry, broadcasters and newspapers badly affected by the new laws, a report by economist Jim Power (above) warns. The report claims out of home (OOH) media will see cuts of €11m, broadcast media of €7m and print media of €2m a year.

Power’s report is entitled ‘The Potential Impact on Irish Media of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015’. International research shows that advertising restrictions fail to combat harmful drinking, yet proposed measure have substantial negative impact on domestic media. The bill seeks to introduce widespread restrictions to the advertising of alcohol in Ireland.

The restrictions include the content of ads and advertising of alcohol in certain public places (such as public parks, public service vehicles, train or bus stations, near schools etc.). It will also be an offence for more than 20 per cent of advertising space in a publication to be allocated to alcohol products, unless that publication sells or distributes alcohol.

The report analyses international literature on the effectiveness of restricting or banning alcohol advertising, as well as its impact on Irish media. It finds that there is widespread disagreement on the success of ad bans or restrictions as a means of reducing harmful drinking and that there is a lack of evidence to justify the restrictions in the bill.

The proposed new measures follow eight years of depressed ad revenues for Irish broadcasting, compounded by declines in the value of sterling as a result of Brexit. There has been a decline of more than 50 per cent in ad revenue for newspapers since 2007.  The proposals rule out alcohol ads on 88 per cent of current OOH panels.

Power said that in 1991 the French authorities introduced alcohol policy law, the Loi Evin, to control alcohol ads. Data from the most recent ESPAD Report shows that drinking among young people continues to be a serious problem and that the strict advertising laws have had little impact on addressing problems associated with alcohol.

Latest data on alcohol consumption from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that alcohol consumption in Ireland is in decline. It has occurred in the absence of the draconian measures contained the bill, Power added. The report is sponsored by RTE, Three, TG4, Eir Sport, Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI), Outdoor Media Association (OMA), NewsBrands Ireland and the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (IAPI).



One Response to Alcohol Bill to cut media ad revenue by €20m

  1. Eunan McKinney 07/07/17 at 9:10 am #

    With respect to your article ‘Alcohol Bill to cut media ad revenue by €20m’ (7 July), the observations outlined are unnecessarily alarmist.

    The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill contains a range of measures designed to work cohesively to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland so lessening alcohol related harms. Implemented together, they will provide a reasonable, pragmatic means to achieving the ambition of this progressive public health initiative.

    The media industry, as the article outlines, warns that new advertising restrictions proposed in the Bill will ‘cost the Irish media sector an estimated €20m a year’. This is again typical of the divisive language that has calculatingly sown the seed of doubt in legislator’s minds and caused over 500 days of an inexcusable delay to the Bill’s passage.

    The impact on total advertising revenues will be nominal. Recent advertising expenditure data from Nielsen, 2016, indicates that total Drink expenditure was €47m (exclusive of alcohol promotion by multiples).

    Are we to really believe the hysteria that revenues, in an industry worth just over €1 billion, will be ‘decimated’ in the face of targeted regulation?

    None of this spending will likely be affected by the provisions of the Bill, as drinks companies will be allowed to continue to advertise their brands, including an image of the product, an image or reference to its place of origin, its method of production, its price, its brand marque, its name, its logo, a description of its flavour, etc., While this is not an exhaustive list, it would seem a reasonable range of possibilities for even the most creatively challenged.

    The Bill does not propose to prohibit advertising of alcohol products. It contains a modest set of regulations principally on the content of advertisements that will limit the appeal of alcohol advertising, particularly to children. This will minimise its impact so that alcohol products can no longer align with performance, success, social inclusion or a variety of other positive outcomes.
    The Bill, were it to be passed, will prohibit alcohol advertising in certain places and times, and place a limited ‘ads-free zone’ perimeter – 200 metres – around schools and early years services. Alcohol products would also no longer be advertise alcohol on public service vehicles.

    The effect on people’s exposure, particularly children, to the ubiquity of alcohol brands will be significant. Evidence based research has consistently demonstrated that alcohol marketing including advertising increases the likelihood that children will start to drink alcohol, and with increased drinking amongst baseline drinkers.

    These measures are one of a wider set of measures designed to work together to address Ireland’s unabated misuse of alcohol, which in time will reduce our high-risk level of consumption and lessen the alcohol related harms that bring enormous social and economic cost to our society.

    WHO data conclusively demonstrates that consumption in France has fallen by 26% since ‘Loi Evin’ measures were introduced in 1991. Ireland’s consumption of alcohol in 2016 rose by 4.8% to 11.46lts.

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