The Health Department has agreed to look into an alternative solution to the proposed ban on alcohol advertising during a meeting held on Friday with health Department officials and outdoor media company Kena Media.
Kena Media co-owner Tshepo Matsepe says the meeting was held with high ranking officials in the Health Department, and the company's request that government review its proposed ban on alcohol advertising was well received.
“We are most pleased that the Health Department took the time to meet with us and to consider reviewing the proposed ban on alcohol advertising. We made it clear that such a ban would have a significant impact on the industry, and particularly on small to medium advertising agencies. They understood this and will seriously relook at their plan to ban alcohol advertising, says Matsepe.
Matsepe says that Kena's proposal that government use the adverting industry and in particular, billboards to support the fight against alcohol abuse rather than ban alcohol advertising was also favourably received.
“It is important that the industry supports government's objectives of dealing with alcohol abuse in South Africa. Outdoor media can be used for educational campaigns on responsible alcohol consumption,” he says.
Kena Media has been leading a country wide campaign to unify the country's advertising industry against government's proposed ban.
“Alcohol advertising is what sustains businesses like ours and a ban would mean having to shed jobs which would not be fair.
Last Month more than 100 media owners, industry specialists, sport and event sponsors, members of the entertainment industry and the liquor trade, gathered at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg to debate the proposal and in particular, the negative impact it would have on the advertising and liquor trade industry.
The objective of the meeting was for participating members to sign a petition against the proposed alcohol advertising ban. The petition has since been taken to all nine provinces. At total of 7426 petitions have been lodged to date.
While members of the advertising industry have agreed with government's objective of curbing alcohol abuse in the country, they believe there is no conclusive evidence available that links alcohol advertising with alcohol abuse. The Out of Home Media Owner's Association (OHMSA) has noted that banning alcohol advertising would not achieve the objective of government to tackle alcohol abuse.
Members of the entertainment industry and tavern owners have raised their concerns of losing income as a result of a ban on alcohol advertising and pleaded for government to deal with the underlying problems attributed to alcohol abuse.
They argue that advertising as a form of freedom of speech was highlighted, and that a partial or complete ban on alcohol advertising would be an infringement of a 'fundamental constitutional right'. - I-Net Bridge