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Televised Liquor Advertising Triggers Protest Against Telemundo Network


December 1994

Latino, health, and safety organizations are protesting the airing of hard liquor advertisements by the Spanish-language Telemundo television network.

The network is airing advertisements for Domecq Importers' Presidente Brandy, violating Telemundo's 1988 acceptance of an agreement to ban hard liquor ads. The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) has maintained a voluntary agreement with electronic media (radio and later television) since Prohibition was repealed. DISCUS' Code of Good Practice states: "Distilled Spirits should not be advertised: by means of radio or television, including public, cable and private closed circuit TV. ... [T]his does not apply to spirits coolers."

Telemundo issued a press release saying that they are acting only to meet the demands of their audience. The network states that hard liquor ads are run in almost all Latin American countries. Telemundo claims to be accommodating the "rights of our viewers to engage in privileges and customs of their own choosing which, in many cases, are culturally distinct from non-Hispanics."

The ads have been running eight times per week since February. Telemundo says that the ads are targeting 25-49 year-old males, appearing on sports and news programs after 10:00 pm.

Telemundo's Joe Kessler spoke with NewsBriefs on Dec. 21. He said the network will continue to run the Domecq advertisements indefinitely. Although they have not been approached by other companies, Kessler said that Telemundo would be receptive to running other hard liquor advertising if the ads are responsibly done.

Kessler said that local affiliates and stations have held meetings with some of the groups concerned about the advertising. At this time, there are no plans to meet any of the groups' demands that Telemundo stop airing the ads and provide time and resources to the groups to produce anti-alcohol public service announcements. Not one letter or call of complaint has been received from the general viewing audience about the ads, Kessler said.

Telemundo reaches 86% of the U.S. Hispanic population, and is the second largest Spanish-language network in the U.S. after Univision. The broadcast network has 53 affiliates and 6 owned and operated stations in the U.S. It also syndicates programming to Latin America, and is looking into starting a 24-hour news television network for that area.

Among the more than 50 groups signing on to the protest are the Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco (LCAT), the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the California Latino Alcohol and other Drug Coalition (CAL-LADCO), the Marin Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and other Drug Problems, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), the American Medical Student Association, and the American Nurses Association.

To contact Telemundo's main office, call 305-884-8200. To find out more about the protest, contact any of the following organizations: Center for Science in the Public Interest: 202-332-9110; Latino Council on Alcohol and Tobacco: 718-262-5109; California Latino Alcohol and other Drug Coalition: 408-378-6805; Communities Empowered to Prevent Alcohol and Drug Abuse: 312-747-9420