NCAA Recommends Alcohol Ad Limits

The National Collegiate Athletic Association's executive committee has recommended that its over 1,000 member colleges limit TV and radio ads for beer, wine and malt beverages (the so-called "alcopops") to 60 seconds per hour, up to a total of 2 minutes per game, and to ban distilled spirit ads altogether.

The NCAA already imposes those limits on the 88 collegiate championships it oversees, but Friday the board voted to recommend that all schools adopt the policy for their college sports contests.

The association has been under pressure to ban all alcohol ads from college sports, and the announcement was a suggestion, not an ultimatum, so the news for the alcohol industry could have been worse.

In April, the board of directors said it would review its alcohol-advertising policy after the American Medical Association called for a ban, and former college football coach and current Nebraska Congressman Tom Osborne reintroduced his "sense of the House" resolution urging a ban.
Representatives of the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and American Association of Advertising Agencies were not immediately available for comment, but when Osborne introduced his resolution, the AAF countered that Nielsen numbers indicated 87% of all college football and basketball TV viewers are over the legal drinking age of 21, and that advertisers already voluntarily reject or modify alcohol ad content that could target minors.

A representative of the Distilled Spirits Council was still reviewing the NCAA position at press time, but the group has consistently argued that beer, wine, and spirits should be treated equally and that any suggestion that one is less potent than another is a fallacious one.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.