Alcohol advertising and sponsorship in Australian sport and non-sport TV

The project was developed to provide much needed evidence for alcohol policy debates on the extent, nature and impact of children and young people’s exposure to alcohol advertising when watching sport TV versus non-sport TV. Australian TV advertising regulations prohibit alcohol advertising during the daytime (6am-8.30pm), however, a clause in the regulations permits alcohol advertising at any time of the day when in sport TV. The project also examined the effect of this clause on children’s exposure to alcohol advertising when watching sport versus non-sport TV across a complete year.

The project combined TV audience viewing data with alcohol advertising data over a complete year. Children were most exposed to alcohol advertising when watching sport TV during the daytime. There was a greater mean number of alcohol adverts per hour during sport TV compared to other programming, and taking into consideration programming time, there were four alcohol adverts in sport TV for every one advert in non-sport TV. Additional correlational and experimental studies found that young people implicitly (unconsciously) associate sport with alcohol and that priming of sport activates alcohol related-thoughts and choices.

The projects findings have been used by peak medical bodies (e.g., Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Royal Australian and New Zealand College and Psychiatrists) to develop their alcohol policy recommendations, and along with other public health groups (e.g., VicHealth, Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education), to call for changes to the Commercial Television Code of Practice. A ban on alcohol advertising before 9pm would see a 50% reduction in children’s exposure to alcohol advertising.

Chief Investigators Professor Kerry O’Brien, Dr Dermot Lynott, Dr Jason Ferris, Dr Michael Livingston, Professor Peter Miller, Professor Robin Room

Funder Australian Research Council Linkage Project Scheme

Other Partners Australian Alcohol and Drug Foundation, VicHealth, Australian National Preventive Health Agency

Date of Award 2013-2015