Media owners, alcohol manufacturers, oppose law on advertising

Alcoholic drinks manufacturers and media owners have voiced their opposition to the Alcoholic Drinks Control (Amendment) Bill that seeks to regulate advertising hours for alcoholic beverages.

The Media Owners Association (MOA), Media Council of Kenya, East African Breweries (EABL) and Keroche Industries said the Bill is unnecessary because there already exists legislation to shield minors and other vulnerable groups from exposure.

Representatives from the four groups cited the Kenya Information and Communications Act, 2015, Kenya Information and Communication (Broadcasting) Regulations 2016, the Programming Code for Broadcasting Services in Kenya, and the Administrative Guidelines on Alcohol Advertising as among laws that are already in place.

“We submit to the committee that there are adequate measures in place, both in law and practice, to mitigate against exposure of minors and other vulnerable persons in the community from access and consumption of alcohol.

“More focus should be put in driving compliance and enforcement by all players as there is sufficient regulation and legislation to support the protection of this group of people,” MoA told the committee chaired by Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange.

The media owners were represented by Nation Media Group Head of Corporate Affairs Clifford Machoka.

“The amendment therefore seeks to duplicate a role and mandate that already exists and is currently adequately being undertaken by the CA. It is important to note that exposure of young people to unsuitable content on alcoholic consumption is largely on the internet, which is already unregulated and does not come under the purview of watershed hours,” said MoA.

EABL Group Corporate Relations Director Eric Kiniti said hurried passage of the law would have a negative trickle-down effect on the economy and sectors that directly rely on advertising.

“Implementing the proposed amendment without relevant authorities first conducting a regulatory impact assessment will result in debilitating effects to the economy and deployment in the creative industry such as design, programmers, actors, producers, film and photographers,” said Mr Kiniti.

He also argued that minors have access to alcoholic beverages that are not advertised, which means that greater emphasis should be on enforcement of existing laws and not over-regulation of the alcoholic beverage industry.  

Keroche Corporate Affairs Director John Nyongesa warned the proposed law would eat into media revenue as manufacturers would explore alternative means of advertising their products.