Distillers seek joint ad code

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Under pressure to quit pitching hard liquor on the airwaves, the nation’s distillers called on President Clinton Friday to gather the beer, wine, broadcast and liquor industries together to develop a common advertising code.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), in a letter to Clinton, urged the president to use his “bully pulpit” and bring the industries “to the table” to develop and adopt a common code for alcohol ads in 90 days.

The initiative comes after Clinton asked the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday to study ways to prevent the hard liquor industry from selling its products over television and radio.

“This code would set the same responsible standard for all beverage alcohol advertising and also would provide uniform guidelines for the broadcasters,” DISCUS president Fred Meister told a news conference.

“This common code would send a strong message that alcohol is alcohol is alcohol,” he said.

Meister declined to discuss details of what his industry would seek, saying he did not want to “preempt the process.”

Some segments of the hard-liquor industry last year abandoned a decades-old voluntary ban on such promotions, and Clinton called on hard liquor executives to renew their moratorium.

The industry’s voluntary ban had been in effect for TV ads since 1948 and radio ads since 1936.

In an initial response to Clinton’s calls, DISCUS said it was unfair and inaccurate to draw a distinction between advertising for hard liquor on one hand and for beer and wine, whose ads were not covered by the voluntary ban and have run on TV for decades.

“We haven’t seen any details on what they’re asking for,” a spokeswoman for the National Assn. of Broadcasters said of the liquor industry’s latest proposal.

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