Ad industry unites against booze ban

Cape Town - Members of the advertising industry have come together in an effort to prevent the government's proposed ban on alcohol advertising, it emerged on Friday.

More than 100 media owners, industry specialists, sport and event sponsors, members of the entertainment industry and the liquor trade, gathered in Johannesburg this week to debate the proposal, Kena Media co-owner Tshepo Matsepe said in a statement.

In particular, the negative impact it would have on the advertising and liquor trade industry was discussed, he said.

The objective of the meeting was for participating members to sign a petition against the proposed alcohol advertising ban.

The petition would be taken to all nine provinces in the next six weeks.

The final petition and a detailed document noting the industry's objectives would be submitted to parliamentary secretary Zingile Dingane.

An additional 400 online petitions had already been lodged.

Kena Media - an outdoor media company - was leading the country-wide campaign.

It argued that a ban on alcohol advertising would have a significant impact on small to medium advertising agencies in particular.

"Alcohol advertising is what sustains businesses like ours and a ban would mean having to shed jobs which would not be fair on the companies and the individuals who helped to build us and make us who we are," Matsepe said.

While participants in the debate agreed with Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's objective to curb alcohol abuse, they believed there was no conclusive evidence available linking alcohol advertising to alcohol abuse.

The Out of Home Media Owner's Association had noted that banning alcohol advertising would not achieve the government's objective of tackling alcohol abuse, Matsepe said.

He proposed that the government use the advertising industry, and in particular billboards, to support the fight against alcohol abuse rather than ban alcohol advertising.

"It is important that the industry supports government's objectives to deal with alcohol abuse in South Africa. Outdoor media can be used for educational campaigns on responsible alcohol consumption," he said.

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