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Tom – According to this report from the Center on Alcohol Advertising and Youth at Georgetown University, there is growing concern among policymakers and the general public about the impact of messages from popular and commercial cultures on youth perceptions, attitudes and health behaviors. The U.S. Congress recently asked the Department of Health and Human Services to monitor and report on rates of youth exposure to advertising and other media messages that encourage and discourage alcohol use. Alcohol companies place television advertisements in both of these categories and alcohol product advertising on television has seen historic increases between 2001 and 2005, the period the report looked at. However, youth exposure to alcohol industry-sponsored "responsibility" advertisements remained at consistently low levels compared to their exposure to alcohol product commercials. For instance, from 2001 to 2005 youth were 239 times more likely to see a product advertisement for alcohol than an alcohol industry "responsibility" message about underage drinking and 32 times more likely to see an alcohol product advertisement than an industry-sponsored "responsibility" advertisement about drinking and driving or drinking safely. These findings come from an analysis of 1,415,716 alcohol product advertisements and 41,333 alcohol industry-supported "responsibility" advertisements aired on U.S. television between 2001 and 2005, as reported in data licensed from Nielsen Media Research.
Other major findings from CAMY's analysis include:
Linda – What kind of money do these companies spend on advertising and what concerns should these ads raise?
Tom – The report authors found that Alcohol companies spent $4.9 billion on television advertising between 2001 and 2005. They spent 2.1% of this amount ($104 million) on "responsibility" advertisements. They also found that more brands aired "responsibility" advertising in 2005 than in any prior year although the . Of the 174 alcohol brands that placed product advertising on television in 2005, at a total cost of $1 billion, 19 brands sponsored "responsibility" advertisements on television, at a total cost of $28 million. This discrepancy between “responsibility ads and products ads is troublesome according to the report because presently alcohol is the leading drug problem among America's youth. In 2005, there were nearly 11 million underage drinkers, and almost 7.2 million underage binge drinkers in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that 45% of high school students reported drinking alcohol in the past month, while 29% reported binge drinking––typically defined as consuming five or more drinks on an occasion. On top of that, young binge drinkers were far more likely than other youth to engage in other risky behaviors. Each year, approximately 5,000 people under age 21 die from alcohol-related injuries involving underage drinking. The highest prevalence of alcohol dependence (addiction to alcohol) in the U.S. population is among youth ages 18 to 20, who usually began drinking years earlier. A growing body of research studies has shown that the more young people are exposed to alcohol advertising, the more likely they are to drink or to increase their alcohol consumption.12 Previous studies have shown that youth who saw alcohol advertising on television in 2005 were exposed to an average of 309 such advertisements. Each year from 2001 to 2005, between 20% and 25% of all alcohol product advertising placements were on programming that youth were more likely to be watching on a per capita basis than adults.
Linda – We will provide a link to the report on our website.
Linda – In protest to the increased royalty rates being charged to internet radio broadcasters, a net radio Day of Silence was recently held leading to 350,000 call to Congress.
Tom - Last Tuesday, listeners who attempted to tune in to internet radio found only silence on many stations. Campaign organizer SaveNetRadio estimated about half of the 30,000 U.S. Webcasters were silent, partly silent or playing announcements urging an estimated 50 million U.S. listeners to act against the hike by calling lawmakers in Washington. “The silence that greeted millions of Internet radio listeners yesterday certainly turned up the volume in Congress,” said Jake Ward, a representative for the SaveNetRadio Coalition. “Yesterday’s day of silence was a tremendous success but the clock continues to tick on the future of Internet radio … it is time for Congress take action.” This action was in protest of recent rate increases imposed on internet station by the government concerning the royalty rates they must pay for playing copyrighted music. These increases are scheduled to go into effect July 15 and critics have predicted very dire consequences for many web broadcasters. According to SaveNetRadio, these new rules for the six biggest Internet radio stations — Pandora, Yahoo, Live365, RealNetworks Inc, AOL and MTV Online — will pay 47 percent of their anticipated 2006 combined revenue of $37.5 million in performance royalties. Many smaller stations are saying that they may go out of business completely.
Linda – What sort of action is congress taking on this issue?
Tom – The issue was taken up by the House of Representatives Committee on Small Business last week. According to an article from the online news source Ars Technica, there were clear signs of frustrations among legislators, stemming from the fact that in the eyes of many, this issue had been debated and rates set in 2002. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) participated in the meeting on account of his sponsorship of a bill that would fix royalty rates at 7.5 percent of revenues. Inslee encouraged all parties to sit down and renew talks, largely because everyone knows that no legislative solution can resolve this problem before the July 15 switch to the new rates. If there is no resolution by July 15, Inslee warned that the fight will continue, and said that the stakes will in fact be higher, as net radio stations will close and emotions and rhetoric will be running high. “Whatever congressmen and women have heard to date, you’re going to hear five to ten times as much after July 15,” he said.
Linda – We will provide a link to the SaveNetRadio website on our website.
Linda – For several weeks we have been reporting on the story of Rupert Murdoch’s attempts to purchase the Dow Jones corporation which publishes the Wall Street Journal. Veteran newscaster and journalist Bill Moyers recently aired commentary on this potential sale on PBS.
Tom – Moyers, one of America’s most respected journalists, took the unusual step of including a short commentary as the closing segment of his show, Bill Moyers Journal. Murdoch’s Newcorp, one of the largest media companies in the world, has been negotiating with the Bancroft family to buy Dow Jones corporation, the most respected financial publisher in the world. This acquisition would include Dow Jones most well known publication, the Wall Street Journal. Echoing the concerns of many staff and reporters at Dow Jones, Moyers had harsh critism of the potential sale, stating “When it comes to Money and power [Murdoch] is carnivorous all appetite and no taste. He’ll eat anything in his path,” Moyers continues, saying “Rupert Murdoch has told the Bancrofts he’ll not meddle with reporting. But he’s accustomed to using journalism as a personal spittoon,” “His worst offense with Fox News is not even its baldly partisan agenda. Far worse is the travesty he’s made of its journalism. Fox News huffs and puffs, pontificates and proclaims, but does little serious original reporting.”
Linda – Moyers full comments can be seen in a online video clip which we will link to on our website.
Linda – Freepree.net has announced a new campaign urging congress to pass the Local Community Radio act of 2007.
Tom – Entitled HR 2802/S. 1675, this bill would bill will open up the public airwaves to more low power FM radio stations across the country. Low-Power FM radio, or LPFM for short, refers to 10 to 100 watt, nonprofit radio stations with a broadcast reach of only a few miles. Because LPFM stations are noncommercial and reach a small broadcast area, they hold great promise to offer truly community-driven and locally-oriented programming. According to freepress.net’s Local Radio Now Campaign, passing this bill will bring more diversity of views and music to your radio dial and re-connect communities to a medium that has been largely overrun by massive corporate conglomerates. This bill is supported in the house by Reps. Mike Doyle and Lee Terry and in the senate by John McCain and Maria Cantwell.
Linda – People can learn more about this issue at www.freepress.net as well as find the online petition at www.freepress.net/lpfm