Hearings on outdoor media reach final stage

The final hearing of a parliamentary inquiry into outdoor media takes place tomorrow. The government will square up to the alcohol and foods industries to gauge whether the self-regulation of outdoor advertising is keeping up with community standards.

The alcohol industry, represented by the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia, Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and Brewers Association of Australia & New Zealand, will table a new pre-vetting system.

The foods industry, represented by the Australian Food and Grocery Council, will discuss advertising to children, a debate given new life last week after a World Health Organisation-backed policy group published a report proposing banning junk advertising around children’s programs on TV.

Graham Perrett MP (pictured), chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs told Mumbrella: “It will be interesting to hear from these industries tomorrow. The alcohol industry is heavily regulated and has made a lot of changes in its behaviour and understanding of the social license that lets it sell alcohol to Australians. It’s instructive for them to be the last public witnesses in this inquiry.”

“Thankfully, the days of ads with people drink driving and the message that grogs get you women, which I fell for 20 years ago, are over,” he said. “Self-regulation mostly works. But it’s not enough for government to say it mostly gets it right. We must get it right all the time.”

Religion, the objectification of women and junk-eating children are among the most complained about issues for the Advertising Standards Bureau, which is mandated to ensure advertising is in keeping with community standards.

The MP praised outdoor advertising firms for their efforts to monitor ad content, and said that problem were caused mainly by a “rogue few” property owners in local councils, and advertisers for which “shock was part of the campaign.”

For outdoor ads to stay in line with community standards makes good business sense for all parties, Perrott added. “Piss off the punters and they will let you know. And who bears the grief? The ad vendor and the local MP.”

Economic uncertainty may have allowed some ads to “get through” that shouldn’t have done,” he added. “When a business’s inventory takes a 20% hit, there is a temptation to avoid making the call that could block incoming revenue.”

Perrett said he was not a fan extra layers of government and wanted to see self-regulation work. Technologies such as facial recognition could help, giving advertisers ways to better target audiences with alcohol and food ads, he noted.

“Although restrictions do apply to advertising alcohol or unhealthy food and beverages to children, many people are concerned about the impact of children’s exposure to outdoor advertising that is not directed specifically to children,” he said.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.