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NBC Ends Voluntary Ban on Hard-Liquor Ads, Draws Criticism from Health and Religious Groups

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The NBC network ended a 50-year voluntary ban on hard-liquor advertisements in mid-December when it announced a multi-million dollar contract with Guinness-UDV, an alcohol conglomerate.

“NBC should reverse its decision and reinstate the voluntary bad on hard liquor ads,” said the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit health advocacy group based in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Washington, D.C.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
George A. Hacker, director of CSPI’s alcohol policies project, characterized NBC’s action as “the triumph of the bottom line over the public interest.”  
CSPI disputed NBC’s claim of “responsible advertising standards for liquor products.”
“[M]illions of underage persons will be exposed to hard liquor advertising, as they have been exposed for decades to appealing, funny, and seductive spots for beer,” CSPI said.
CPSI pointed out that “Alcohol is by far America’s number-one youth drug problem. It kills six times more kids than all illicit drugs combined and underage drinking costs our country an estimated $52 billion per year.”
CSPI called on Congress to require networks that air alcohol ads to meet two standards: (1) networks should provide equal time for public health and safety messages produced by independent agencies not affiliated with the alcohol industry; and (2) health warnings about the dangers of alcohol should accompany all alcohol ads.
The Baptist Center for Ethics, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Consumer Federal of America, National PTA and others co-signed a CSPI letter late in December praising ABC, CBS, UPN, Fox and WB television networks for their rejection of hard-liquor ads.
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