Row over drinks advertising

28 August, 2008

Portman Group accuses Alcohol Concern of provoking public with report

The Portman Group and Alcohol Concern have locked horns

with the trade body accusing the charity of publishing "in accurate and flawed" information about how children are exposed to drinks advertising.

Alcohol Concern claimed

TV advertising for drinks

peaks between 3pm and 5pm, which "coincides with the time when most children return from school".

It also suggested that drinks companies were placing ads during The Simpsons, which has a

following among under-18s.

Portman chief executive David Poley is alarmed that Alcohol Concern's report - which he feels does not acknowledge

strict Ofcom regulations

prohibiting drinks advertising whenever the proportion of child viewers is 20% higher than the national average - has been taken on board by the government.

In an open letter to Alcohol Concern chief executive Don Shenker,

Poley said: "I am disappointed that you sought to stimulate public concern on this issue in such a haphazard and disingenuous way."

He explains: "The fact is that, contrary to the claims in the report, television alcohol advertising is subject to strict placement controls which are based on the audience profiling of individual programmes. These controls apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

The letter provoked a forthright response from Shenker: "We are dismayed that Portman decided to invest so much time and work - unsuccessfully I might add - to discrediting our report.

"In our view it throws real doubt on the specific role of the Portman Group, which has in the past impressed us with the impartiality of its code of conduct.

"We are saddened to see

it has thrown off the cloak of impartiality in favour of doing the work of the main trade associations."

Shenker maintained

alcohol advertising does "spike" between 3pm and 5pm. But he added: "Regardless of what happens between 3pm and 5pm there

are a huge number of alcohol adverts which children are exposed to between

these times,

so we continue to stand by our call for a watershed ban as the best way to protect young people in society from alcohol-related harms."

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