Sunday 24 September 2017

Anti-drink law will cost media €20m a year and risk jobs

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Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Proposed restrictions on the marketing of alcohol will cost the Irish media sector an estimated €20m a year and endanger jobs, according to new research for the sector. That is despite international research indicating that the restrictions won't reduce alcohol abuse, according to the report by economist Jim Power.

The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is currently going through the Oireachtas and includes widespread restrictions on the marketing of alcohol, including on the content and placement of adverts.

For publishers and broadcasters, it will become an offence for more than 20pc of advertising space in a publication to be given over to alcohol. The media will lose €20m a year, Mr Power said.

The so-called 'out-of-home' segment, including billboards and advertising on the sides of buses, would be worst hit, down €11m a year, followed by broadcasters (€7m) and print media (€2m), according to the research.

The report was commissioned by organisations including Newsbrands - which represents newspapers - RTÉ, TV3 and Independent Broadcasters of Ireland (IBI), which acts for the radio sector.

"The changes provided for in the Bill will lead to fewer advertisements, which will result in less finance for professional Irish media content, an inevitable reduction in consumer choice and job losses in the area," Mr Power found.

International evidence was that advertising restrictions didn't reduce harmful drinking.

"In 1991, the French authorities introduced alcohol policy law, the Loi Evin, to control the advertising of alcohol. Data from the most recent ESPAD Report shows that drinking among young people continues to be a serious problem and that the strict advertising laws have had little impact on addressing this," he said.

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