ARCHIVED -  Public Notice CRTC 1986-247

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Public Notice

Ottawa, 19 September 1986
Public Notice CRTC 1986-247
On 19 March 1986, at the same time that it published proposed new regulations for radio, the Commission issued Public Notice CRTC 1986-68 entitled "Revised Regulatory Approach Regarding the Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages and Food and Drugs". The Commission indicated that it would propose similar amendments to the television advertising of such products.
The new regulation which the Commission had initially proposed for alcoholic beverage broadcast advertising would have eliminated the long-standing requirement for CRTC preclearance of scripts for beer, wine and cider commercials while maintaining the current prohibition against the broadcast advertising of spirituous liquor, as well as the prohibition against commercials which promote the general use of beer, wine and cider.
To replace the Commission's pre-clearance guidelines and procedures, the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) was invited to consult with others and to develop a proposed code and a process for its administration. The CAB accepted that challenge and devoted a great deal of thought and energy to the task. The Commission commends the CAB and those who worked with it in the development of a draft code and the proposal for its administration. The Commission in particular acknowledges the participation of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the brewing industry in that process.
In response to the Commission's call for comments, 116 submissions were received. Thirty-one parties appeared at the public hearing, which was held in the National Capital Region commencing 21 May 1986, to consider the Commission's proposed new regulation and the CAB's proposals.
Among those who submitted comments were broadcasters, advertisers, the Minister of National Health and Welfare, provincial health officials, representatives of drug and alcohol dependency commissions, provincial liquor control agencies, professional and amateur sports organizations and other organizations. Some forty individual citizens also commented on the proposals.
It is clear from the submissions that there is widespread concern about the promotion of alcoholic beverages, particularly as it may influence young people. None of the parties suggested that broadcast advertising of alcoholic beverages is entirely responsible for alcohol abuse. However, many felt that such advertising contributes to the overall health, social, and economic problems related to alcohol.
Most of the participants in the Commission's public process also expressed serious concerns about the Commission's proposal that it would no longer preclear scripts for beer, wine and cider products.
Furthermore, notwithstanding the efforts of those who worked at developing the proposed code and procedures for its administration, it became evident at the public hearing that there existed a fundamental difference of opinion between broadcasters, brewers and advertising industry representatives as to how the code should be administered.
In light of this, the Commission is of the view that, at this time and in this matter, the elements required to ensure successful self-regulation are not sufficiently apparent. Therefore, the alcoholic beverage broadcast advertising provisions contained in the new Radio Regulations, announced by the Commission today in Public Notice CRTC 1986-248, maintain the requirement for Commission pre-clearance of the scripts of commercials for these products.
Moreover, some parties suggested that the Commission's regulations should include additional restrictions.
For example, there were suggestions related to:
- limiting the amount of time to be devoted to alcoholic beverage advertising,
- restricting the times at which these products may be advertised,
- requiring that there be educational, moderation and/or anti-drinking and driving messages.
The new regulations do not incorporate provisions on these matters. The Commission notes that in several provinces there already exist regulations or policies that deal with time and scheduling limits. The Commission is also aware that many of its licensees present public service announcements on a regular basis to promote moderation and to campaign against drinking and driving. The Commission commends those broadcasters who have established strong records of public service in this field, and encourages all licences to take similar initiatives.
The principal differences between the Commission's existing regulation and the regulation announced today are as follows:
(i) While the new regulation continues to impose the existing prohibition against broadcast advertising of spirituous liquor, broadcasting licensees will now be permitted to broadcast, under certain conditions, commercials for other alcoholic beverages, so long as they contain no more than 7% alcohol by volume. This will permit the broadcast advertising of such products as spirit-based "coolers" which contain levels of alcohol by volume comparable to those of wine-based "coolers" and similar beer-based products with which they compete directly and for which broadcast advertising is already permitted.
(ii) The Commission has modified the guidelines which it has used in preclearing scripts by using a new code entitled "Code For Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages". The new regulation announced today incorporates this Code by reference. This will ensure that broadcasters, advertisers, interested parties will have a clear understanding of the criteria used by the Commission. Also, in view of its inclusion in the regulations, the Code will now have the force of law.
This Code, which is attached as an appendix to this notice, is based on the guidelines which the Commission has used in the past and the proposals submitted by interveners, including the CAB. For example, consistent with widespread societal concern about the consequences of drinking and driving, the Code incorporates the prohibition, suggested by the CAB, against the association of motor vehicles and alcoholic beverages in broadcast commercials.
The Commission has also adopted the proposal of the CAB that the prohibition against alcoholic beverage endorsements by celebrities in radio and television commercials be modified by including a prohibition against such endorsements by celebrities who are likely to be role models for minors. This is consistent with the concern of many interested parties about the effects of broadcast advertising of alcoholic beverages on young people.
In this regard, the Commission notes the statements, at the public hearing by the Brewers Association of Canada and Carling O'Keefe Breweries Limited/la Brasserie O'Keefe Limitée, that they support the proposed prohibition contained in the CAB Code against the directing of advertising to minors and against endorsements by celebrities who are likely to be role models for minors.
The Code retains the existing prohibition against the depiction of the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Alcoholic Beverage Broadcast Advertising Advisory Committee
Since 1964 an advertising advisory committee has assisted the Commission and its predecessor agency, the Board of Broadcast Governors, in reviewing commercial scripts and storyboards. From the outset, that committee has included representatives of the liquor regulation agencies of Ontario and Quebec and, since 1977, a representative of the Department of National Health and Welfare.
The present advisory committee includes, in addition to CRTC representatives, one representative of la Régie des Permis d'Alcool du Québec, one from the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and one from the Department of National Health and Welfare. The Commission is grateful for the on-going co-operation of these agencies, and counts on their continued participation in the committee.
In order to involve more closely the broadcasting industry in the process, the Commission invites the CAB and the CBC to each nominate a representative to participate in this committee.
In view of the distance and cost, it has not been feasible for provinces other than Ontario and Quebec to attend regularly the bi-monthly meetings and over the years, representatives of other provincial liquor control agencies have attended only on an occasional basis. However, the Commission renews its invitation to those agencies to attend whenever possible.
In Public Notice CRTC 1986-68, the Commission proposed to discontinue the regulatory requirement that the CRTC approve scripts for products, other than alcoholic beverages, to which the Food and Drugs Act applies.
Over the years, the Commission's role in this process had diminished to the point where it served largely as an agent for the Departments of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Food) and National Health and Welfare (Drugs, Cosmetics and Medical Devices), which also approve scripts for these products. During the public process, some parties supported this proposal; no one opposed it.
In light of the above, the Commission's new radio regulations, announced today, do not require Commission clearance of scripts for products to which the Food and Drugs Act applies, other than alcoholic beverages.
To give broadcasters, the government departments, advertisers and other interested parties sufficient time to adjust their administrative procedures, this aspect of the new regulation will come into effect 1 April 1987.
The new regulation provides that the Commission will continue to approve scripts for these products until 31 March 1987.
Fernand Bélisle Secretary General

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