Legislation that would require health notices on beer and wine ads will seriously hurt local broadcasters and encourage the migration of sports programming to cable TV, National Assn. of Broadcasters prez Eddie Fritts is warning Congress.

Fritts, in a letter sent to each member of the House and Senate, called the proposal offered last week a “simple-sounding solution that will not … solve the problem” of alcohol abuse.

The bill, offered by Sens. Paul Simon (D-Ill.) and Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) and Reps. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John Conyers (D-Mich.), would require a series of rotating health warnings be attached to all alcohol blurbs.

Fritts claimed in his missive that there is no evidence linking advertising to alcohol abuse. He said that despite an increase in beer advertising in the 1980s, consumption actually fell. “Thus, requiring such warnings will do nothing to stop problem drinkers from drinking,” per Fritts.

The NAB prez also said brewers and vintners “simply will not advertise” if the bill becomes law. The loss of advertising would have “serious, negative consequences” for local broadcasters, he said, and “likely would increase the migration of sports programs from local, over-the-air stations to cable.”

“Advertising warning legislation sounds like a reasonable idea, until you look at the issue more closely,” wrote Fritts. “But the fact remains that it will not accomplish its intended goal, and instead will simply drive such advertising off radio and TV altogether.”

Clinton NAB no-show

President Clinton has declined an invitation to address the upcoming National Assn. of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas.

NAB spokeswoman Lynn McReynolds said the White House recently sent notice that Clinton will not be attending the event, set for April 18-22. No reason was given.

At last year’s convention, NAB staffers were embarrassed when an intruder walked past Secret Service agents during a speech by former President Reagan and smashed a glass statue that had been presented to Reagan.

In other convention news, the NAB said Hollywood director Jim Cameron will attend the convention and discuss his new partnership with IBM. Cameron, who produced and directed both “Terminator” films, will outline his views on the conversion to a digital-transmission world in communications.

Cameron’s talk will be given at the NAB MultiMedia World portion of the confab April 19 at 9 a.m. at the Las Vegas Hilton. IBM veepee Lucie Fjeldstad will participate in the discussion.

’91 finsyn extended

A Chicago court has extended the FCC’s 1991 finsyn rules for two months until the agency can put in place new rules adopted last week.

The action by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was expected. The Chi court had given the agency until yesterday (April 6) to come up with new rules after tossing out the Federal Communications Commission’s 1991 finsyn revisions on grounds that the decision was “unreasoned and unreasonable.”

The new FCC rules — which grant the Big Three networks sweeping new rights to own TV programs and profit from their sale in syndication — do not become effective for at least several weeks.

NAB backs AM standard

The NAB told the FCC today it supports establishment of Motorola’s C-Quam system as the single standard for AM stereo radio.

In comments filed with the FCC, the NAB said the FCC “has the opportunity to correct one of the most troublesome actions of the 1980s — the failure to select a single standard for U.S. AM broadcasting.”

The FCC under presidents Reagan and Bush declined to endorse a single standard for AM stereo, choosing instead to let the marketplace decide the issue. That approach drew strong criticism from the broadcast industry,however, and last year Congress passed a bill ordering the FCC to pick a single standard.

The NAB said the selection of an AM stereo standard could provide a boost to an industry that remains far behind FM radio in technical quality.

Williamson ATTC chair

Ohio broadcaster Bud Williamson was recently voted chairman of the Advanced Television Test Center, the group responsible for assisting in the selection of a final high definition TV standard in the U.S.

Williamson, prexy of WKBN Broadcasting Corp. of Youngstown, has been on ATTC’s board of directors since its inception. He replaces Joel Chasemen, the former Post-Newsweek exec who had chaired ATTC since 1988.

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