President Clinton condemned the decision of the nation’s distillers to end their longstanding voluntary ban on airing hard-liquor ads. He called it a “simply irresponsible move” that will make the job of raising children harder.
At the same time, Clinton applauded the four major broadcast networks for promising to continue to refuse liquor advertisements and called on all other broadcasters to do the same.
In Saturday’s radio address, the first since his re-election, Clinton also renewed his appeal to tobacco companies to stop aiming ads at children and sounded anew the family values themes that marked his campaign.
Clinton said the distiller’s decision to air liquor ads on radio and television - a decision apparently prompted by the fear of losing market share to beer and wine - means “exposing our children to such ads before they know how to handle alcohol or are legally allowed to do so.”
“That is simply irresponsible,” he said.
Clinton urged other broadcasters and cable operators to follow the example set by the ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox networks to keep liquor ads off the airwaves.
“Parents have a hard enough time raising good kids these days, and all of us have a responsibility to help them make those jobs easier, not harder,” the president said.
Clinton repeatedly emphasized his determination to use government to help parents “protect their children from bad influences that come from outside the home.”
He centered his radio talk on the dangers posed to children by two of those influences, tobacco and alcohol.
“To tobacco companies we should all say, sell your products to adults, but draw the line on kids,” Clinton said.
“And to liquor companies we should say, you were right for the last 50 years when you didn’t advertise on television; you’re wrong to change your policy now.
“This is no time to turn back,” he said. “Get back on the ban. That’s the best way to protect all our families.”
The liquor industry voluntarily barred radio ads promoting such products as whiskey, vodka, and rum in 1936. Twelve years later, it extended the ban to television.
But on Thursday, the distillers said they wanted to be as free as brewers and winemakers to advertise on the airwaves.
Responding to earlier government criticism, Fred Meister, president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, which made the decision to drop the ad ban, said: “We will do whatever is necessary to protect our First Amendment rights” to free speech.
Meister said the council’s revised marketing and advertising code now has provisions to shield youngsters from the ads, including not using objects and cartoons popular with children.