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Prime time ad ban for alcohol could be on the cards

| Wine and liquor

Prime time advertising of alcoholic beverages could soon be a thing of the past if cabinet approves a regulation contained in the draft liquor policy paper.

The Sunday Times reported that cabinet would discuss the proposal at its bimonthly meeting on Wednesday to restrict the time for alcohol-related ads to between 22:00 and 06:00 on TV channels. Currently, liquor companies’ adverts are allowed to be aired from 17:00. 


The new regulations, if approved by cabinet, could have serious implications for liquor companies’ ability to win market shares and TV channels’ advertising income. SABC could be the biggest loser as its most significant viewership is between 18:00 and 20:00 when soap operas, such as Generations, are aired. 

In 2013 a draft bill banning alcohol advertising altogether was on its way to cabinet, but Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies subsequently drafted a milder version, following appeals from liquor companies. 

The amended regulations also propose the following: 

- raising the minimum drinking age from 18 to 21;

- holding liquor suppliers and manufacturers liable for any damage in instances where liquor was sold to underage patrons;

- holding liquor suppliers and manufacturers accountable for damages arising when alcohol was sold to illegal traders; 

- holding retail outlets that sell alcohol accountable for damages when alcohol has been sold to drunk patrons and property is damaged close to the retail outlet. 

The previous draft of the bill in 2013 was the result of deliberations between an inter-ministerial committee chaired by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, and civil society. 

At the time, the policy called for the outright ban on alcohol advertising, as “moves by the industry to curb the harm caused by drinking alcohol, such as promoting responsible drinking, were not yielding results”, the interministerial committee said.

 

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