TRASHED

Media owners, brewers ask MPs to throw out Bill on alcohol

The Bill proposes to give Interior Cabinet Secretary the sole power to prescribe the hours within which electronic advertisements on alcohol can be broadcast.

In Summary

•The proposed law  also seeks to restrict alcohol advertisements from stating that the products promote national values.

•The law already limits the time alcohol can be advertised, reinforced within the industry by the development of marketing codes. 

An Alcohol advertisement placed on a city building/FILE
An Alcohol advertisement placed on a city building/FILE

A proposed law to further restrict advertising of alcohol will only increase the cost of doing business without any benefit to people it is intended to protect, media owners and alcohol manufacturers have said.

The Media Owners Association, East African Breweries Limited and Keroche Breweries have asked the National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security to throw out the proposed amendments to the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, popularly known as the Mututho Law.

The Bill proposes to give Interior Cabinet Secretary the sole power to prescribe the hours within which electronic advertisements on alcohol can be broadcast.

It also seeks to restrict alcohol advertisements from stating that the products promote national values.

“We submit to the committee that there are adequate measures in place, both in law and in practice, to mitigate against exposure of minors and other vulnerable persons in the community from access and consumption of alcohol,” EABL said in a presentation made by Group corporate relations director Eric Kiniti.

The Media Owners Association and Keroche Breweries are also of a similar opinion, telling the committee led by Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange that the law would further constrain advertising without resolving any problems.

“The amendment seeks to duplicate a role and a mandate that already exists and currently being undertaken by the Communications Authority of Kenya,” said the media owners in their presentation.

The media owners asked the MPs to take note of the fact that young people are now exposed to unsuitable content on alcoholic consumption on the internet and digital channels, which are largely unregulated and do not come under the purview of watershed hours.

The institutions said more focus should be put on enforcing the existing laws and ensuring all players abide by them as the laws and regulations are enough.

“The Bill will increase the statutory compliance complexes without any added benefit to those persons it is seeking to protect,” Kiniti said.

Alcohol advertisements are restricted under the provisions of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act as well as the Kenya Information and Communication Act and the Kenya Information and Communication (Broadcasting) Regulations.

It is also monitored through the Programming Code for Broadcasting Services in Kenya and the Administrative Guidelines on Alcohol Advertising.

According to media owners, these guidelines remain in force to date, having been developed in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders.

They the Marketing Society of Kenya, Advertising Practitioners Association, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Media Owners Association and Public Relations Society of Kenya.

The media is regulated by the Media Council of Kenya Act. Laws such as the Children’s Act also protect children from exposure to substances that should legally only be consumed by adults.

The institutions have urged the authorities to carry out an assessment of the impact the Bill would have on the economy, especially on the creative industry in Kenya, which produces the advertisements.

The law already limits the time alcohol can be advertised, and this has been reinforced within the industry by the development of marketing codes that guide the development and promotion of advertisements.

Advertising creates jobs in the media and amongst professions such as designers, programmers, actors, producers, videographers, and photographers.

Alcohol manufacturing also has an impact on the economy by promoting agriculture, logistics, retail, and secondary effects on other manufacturers in glass, packaging, and additives, and the food and beverage industry.

 Kiniti also pointed out to MPs the fact that not all alcoholic products are advertised, as well as the fact that up to 60 per cent of the alcohol sold in Kenya is unrecorded or informal.

“It’s worth noting that not all alcoholic products are advertised and yet minors have access to those kind of products. For example, chang’aa and busaa are readily consumed by minors and adults yet they are never advertised in any media,” he said.

This goes to show that more emphasis should be put on enforcement and not burdening legitimate industry players with overregulation, he added.