NBC's decision to begin carrying hard liquor ads did not create the flurry of
criticism many had expected, although by this past week's end Representative Ed
Markey (D-Mass.) had weighed in:
'The decades-long self-imposed restraint is ending and I believe that it
represents poor public policy,' said Markey.
'I implore NBC to reconsider its actions.'
TV executives worried the move might jeopardize efforts to gain further
deregulation if alcohol ads irked members of Congress.
NBC sources said they briefed key Capitol Hill-types before going ahead.
'Certainly, there's no legal prohibition against it. The liquor industry has
a right to advertise on television, but also an obligation to do it
responsibly,' says Ken Johnson, spokesman for Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.),
chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
One competitor called NBC's approach 'measured and responsible.'
ABC, CBS and Fox said their blanket bans remain in effect, although a CBS
spokesman added, 'we are constantly reviewing these policies.'
Even Mothers Against Drunk Driving gave NBC credit:
'It is our understanding after speaking with NBC network officials that the
ads will comply with MADD's alcohol advertising position and will air late at
night during programs that target 85% adult audiences. MADD hopes these will be
permanent standards and that they will be applied to all segments of the
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