August 7th, 2008

NCAA Says It Won't Tighten Rules on Beer Ads

By Ira Teinowitz
Advertising Age

Limits Would Threaten Size of Rights Fee Generated From Big-Money Games

The NCAA is rejecting calls from critics to alter its policy allowing beer and wine cooler ads on telecasts of college sports, saying the current policy is sufficient.

The Division 1 executive committee announced its decision to reaffirm the policy today after a meeting in Indianapolis, according to an NCAA spokesman.

Some congressmen, school presidents, college coaches and athletic directors had urged the NCAA to further limit or ban alcohol ads from TV telecasts of NCAA events.

One minute per hour
Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller are among the top five advertisers of the NCAA’s high-rated “March Madness” basketball telecasts on CBS, and further limits on alcohol ads cut could have threatened the size of the rights fee the NCAA generated from that and other telecasts, potentially affecting scholarship money and school revenue.

The NCAA allows alcohol advertising for products that don’t exceed 6% alcohol levels—essentially beer and wine coolers. It also allows only one minute per hour of any telecast to be devoted to alcohol ads.

Youth players, adult audience
The critics, among them Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., had urged NCAA President Myles Brand and the committee to act, saying that amount of alcohol advertising was too much. They questioned whether alcohol advertising on NCAA programming sent the wrong message.

The Beer Institute, which has code barring advertising in programming in which 70% of the audience isn’t over 21, and ad groups, meanwhile, have said that while youths play, the games and NCAA events telecast are viewed by a mostly adult audience.

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