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ERLC, others thank NBC, encourage total alcohol ad ban

WASHINGTON (BP)–Twenty pro-family organizations, led by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, have written the NBC television network to thank its executives for deciding not to air hard-liquor ads.

They also recommended the network go a step further and ban all alcohol advertising.

The letter from ERLC President Richard Land and others thanked NBC Chairman/Chief Executive Officer Robert Wright and President Randy Falco “for hearing the concerns of countless millions of American citizens and viewers nationwide.”

NBC announced March 20 it had decided not to telecast liquor ads, reversing a position it had made public in December. The latest decision returned the network to a voluntary ban on such advertising that had been in place for half a century.

In their March 25 letter, Land and the others also urged NBC “to maintain this policy and consider going beyond it to ban advertising of all alcohol, including beer.”

Included among those signing onto the ERLC letter were Chuck Colson, chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries; Ken Connor, president of Family Research Council; Tom Minnery, vice president of public policy for Focus on the Family; Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America; Phyllis Schlafly, president of Eagle Forum; Donald Wildmon, president of American Family Association; Roberta Combs, president of Christian Coalition of America; Alan Sears, president of Alliance Defense Fund; Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs of National Association of Evangelicals; Colby May, director of the Washington office of American Center for Law and Justice; John Holmes, director of government affairs for the Association of Christian Schools International; Tom Rogeberg, executive vice president of Coral Ridge Ministries Media, and Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition.

The liquor industry dropped its voluntary, nearly 50-year prohibition on broadcast advertising in 1996. Some cable networks and independent stations have been showing liquor ads, but none of the broadcast networks had chosen to air such ads until NBC announced in December it would. The other broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, Fox, UPN and Warner Brothers — maintained their ban, however.

NBC began running liquor ads in December from Smirnoff vodka promoting responsible drinking, according to The Washington Post. In April, those ads were scheduled to change to a typical advertising campaign, according to the report.

Public health and religious organizations led the way in opposing NBC’s barrier-breaking move. Organizations also expressing concerns about the December decision included the American Medical Association, National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Center for Science in the Public Interest, National Parent Teacher Association, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United Methodist Church.

Representatives of a coalition of organizations, including the ERLC, met with NBC officials in early March in Washington to express their concerns.

Wright and Falco may be contacted at NBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10012.

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