Station bars prime-time local booze ads

Wine Commercial

KJCT Channel 8, Grand Junction’s ABC affiliate, is telling local advertisers to leave the booze out of their prime time ads if they want them to air before 9 p.m., local media buyers have confirmed.

“KJCT cannot accept advertisement during the prime time hours for alcoholic beverages,” said Karen Jefferson, a television ad buyer for Cobb Marketing and Communications.

A woman who answered the phone at KJCT last week could not confirm the policy. An email and telephone messages to station managers were not answered.

Jefferson said she did not know how the station plans to handle national advertising or programming that contains alcoholic beverages during prime time.

An email about the policy came to Jefferson from a KJCT media representative as an “FYI,” Jefferson said.

“We can’t show or mention alcohol in an ad that airs before 9 p.m.,” the email said, according to Jefferson.

Vicki Felmlee of TCS Marketing Group, a Grand Junction communications firm, said she was notified of the policy by her clients.

“Liquor stores are being told (about the policy),” Felmlee said.

The Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau currently markets Colorado Mountain Winefest and wineries as a primary reason to make the Grand Valley a vacation destination, she said.

“I would think (they) would have something to say about this,” Felmlee said.

While the VCB has worked for years to brand Grand Junction as “Colorado Wine Country,” it has apparently not invested in advertising through local media markets to cement the branding.

VCB officials declined to comment on the policy.

“We don’t buy local advertising,” said Barb Bowman, the VCB’s director of sales.

Under state and federal law, TV stations are allowed to exercise discretion when alcohol beverage advertising is involved.

“It is totally and completely up to station owners to decide,” Felmlee said. “It’s their personal preference.”

The policy has not presented a problem for Cobb clients yet, Jefferson said.

“It kind of surprised me to receive the message, but right away I went, oh, we can get around that,” she said.

If confronted with a resort client, for example, where alcoholic beverages are part of the package, Jefferson said she could rework the script to avoid using prohibited wording.

“Libations is a wonderful word,” she said.

Under the circumstances, any local advertisement on KJCT during prime time could not focus on adult beverages, she said.

Congress has not enacted any law prohibiting broadcast advertising for any kind of alcoholic beverage, and the Federal Communications Commission does not have a rule or policy regulating such advertisements, FCC officials said.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued a series of voluntary guidelines for advertisers, however.

Most alcohol advertisers pledged to comply with one of three voluntary self-regulatory codes designed to limit targeting of teens, the FTC said.

Among other provisions, the voluntary codes direct that no more than 28.4 percent of the audience for an ad may consist of people under 21, based on reliable audience data. The advisory asks that alcohol ads not appeal primarily to people under age 21, according to the FTC.

The most recent data reported by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health show that in the Denver market, viewers ages 12 to 20 see a total of 7,848 advertisements a year. More than 2,300 of those feature alcoholic beverages.

“The alcohol industry spends more than $4 billion each year marketing its products. Underage youth receive substantial exposure to this marketing, and multiple longitudinal studies have correlated this exposure with greater likelihood of drinking, or if young people have already initiated alcohol use, drinking more,” the Johns Hopkins School said.


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