The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will cost the Irish media industry around €20m a year in lost advertising revenues if it is implemented in its current form, according to leading economist Jim Power.
It is estimated that the proposed measures would cost the out of home (OOH) media industry around €11m a year while broadcasters could lose up to €7m with print likely to lose €2m a year.
The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 seeks to introduce widespread restrictions to the advertising of alcohol in Ireland. This includes restrictions on the content of advertisements and advertising of alcohol in certain public places (such as public parks, public service vehicles, train or bus stations, near schools etc.). It will also be an offence for more than 20% of advertising space in a publication to be allocated to alcohol products, unless that publication sells or distributes alcohol.
The report entitled The Potential Impact on Irish Media of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 analyses international literature on the effectiveness of restricting or banning alcohol advertising, as well as its impact on Irish media. It finds that there is widespread disagreement on the success of advertising bans or restrictions as a means of reducing harmful drinking – and that there is a lack of evidence to justify the restrictions contained in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015.
According to Power: “Irish media is already under significant financial pressure from declining advertising revenues and the advent of digital media. These pressures will be exacerbated by the new legislation – which will cost jobs and undermine the ability of the affected Irish media organisations to deliver high quality media content.”
“Ireland already has a strict regulatory regime in place that controls the advertising of alcohol. Imposing a new regulatory regime – doubles the amount of regulation on industry – and effectively turns off the advertising revenue tap for Irish media which will cost jobs and damage media output,” he says.
“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.”
He added: ‘‘Proponents of extreme regulation and restriction argue that banning or restricting advertising will reduce harmful alcohol consumption and protect younger people. The international evidence is not very reassuring in that regard. 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.
“Latest data on alcohol consumption from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows clearly that alcohol consumption in Ireland is on a declining trend. This has occurred in the absence of the draconian measures contained the Bill,” says Power.