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How is Liquor advertising regulated on television?
Liquor advertising has stricter controls on it than many other forms of advertising on television. While all advertising is bound by the Codes of Advertising Practice, liquor advertising must also comply with The Code for Advertising Liquor, which has a number of key principles:
- Shall not conflict with the need for responsibility and moderation in consumption
- Shall observe a high standard of social responsibility
- Shall not depict any unsafe practices
- Shall not have appeal to minors
- Shall only be shown on television between 8.30pm and 6.00am.
- Shall not use identifiable heroes of the young
- Sponsorship advertisements must primarily promote the sponsored activity.

The Liquor Advertising Pre-Vetting system (LAPS) previews liquor advertising and approves it in relation to its compliance with the Codes. Advertising material is pre-vetted at the concept stage so that any required changes can be made, and then the finished advertising receives a LAPS approval number before it goes to the media.

The LAPS system is administered by the Association of New Zealand Advertisers (ANZA), and more information is available at www.anza.co.nz.

Every five years there is a formal review of the Codes for Advertising Liquor, the last review was undertaken in July 2003. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is responsible for coordinating the review. The review panel of public and industry members was chaired by Sir Michael Hardie Boyes.

The recommendations of the review panel were to strengthen and clarify some aspects of the Code, in particular they lifted the standards by adding a new principle that liquor advertising must observe a high standard of social responsibility. They also relaxed the curfew on screening liquor advertisements on television, moving it from 9.00pm to 8.30pm.

The complaints process for liquor advertising works in the same way as for other types of advertising, with complaints directed to the ASCB for consideration. Those advertisements that are not compliant with the Code are upheld, and the advertising is withdrawn.

There has recently been a lot of concern about child obesity. Does television have a role in this debate?
The concern has focused on a number of issues including lack of exercise and poor diet. Television advertising of food has also received attention, although the link between the advertising of food and poor eating habits is not well researched.

The current regulations prevent advertisers from promoting the health benefits of "good" food. If health claims were allowed for advertising food products, the Advertising Standards Authority could set up rules to ensure that only authentic claims were being made.

In New Zealand we already have detailed rules set by the ASA and the television broadcasters to regulate food advertising on television. If health claims could be made as well, New Zealand would have a world-leading regulatory framework for food advertising. Standards cover all foods, whether it is treat food, such as candy bars, or breakfast cereals or other food related advertisements such as supermarkets.

Authority codes of practice ensure that proper advertising standards are maintained. Not only must advertising comply with the law, but must also truthful and socially responsible, and not misleading or deceptive.

The codes relevant to food advertising are the advertising code of ethics, the code for advertising to children, and the code for advertising of food.

The code for advertising to children recognizes the special characteristics of that audience. It acknowledges that children are entitled to certain rights and protection under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The code is designed to ensure that advertising to children will be conducted in a manner which is socially responsible and does not mislead or deceive. Special care needs to be taken in advertising to younger children, particularly those under 8.

The authority keeps detailed records of complaints against its codes. Under the food code, 26 complaints were received last year, of which seven were upheld. Three of these concerned water products. Under the children's code only three complaints were received, and none of these were upheld.

The rules exist because broadcasters recognise the special place of children in society and the need for a high level of social responsibility. During programmes shown specially for children on TV2, TV3 and Prime there are voluntary restrictions that prohibit excessive repetition of commercials, limit sponsorships, limit advertising levels, ensure advertising is clearly recognizable as such.

Advertising is prohibited during programmes shown specially for pre-school children.

How do you measure who is watching television?
An expert audience research company, AGB Nielsen Media Research, has installed sophisticated equipment in 500 homes throughout New Zealand to record the viewing habits of the residents with the co-operation of the families living in those homes. These people are chosen to reflect the social, economic and demographic characteristics of New Zealand. This forms a statistically reliable sample to project out the viewing of all television programmes.

What's the difference between free to air or broadcast television and pay television?
Free to air television costs nothing to view and is financed by advertising. Pay TV requires a weekly subscription to be paid and cannot be viewed without the payment being made. It also has advertisements.

How many television sets are in New Zealand?
About 98.8% of New Zealand homes have a television set and more than half have more than one set. This is a higher percentage than the homes which have telephones.

How can we be sure it is okay for our children to watch certain programmes?
All the television stations have a detailed programme classification system in place which is monitored closely. A Government agency, the Broadcasting Standards authority has approved the programmes codes which allow for the classification of programmes. Advertisements are also pre-vetted and classified before screening. There is a special voluntary children's advertising code called Getting It Right for Children which covers many issues involving children.

Why do TV commercials sometimes sounds louder than the programmes?
Although it is a commonly held belief, the television networks do not increase the volume of advertisements when they are screened. However, it is common practice in the television commercial production industry for the sound tracks of commercials and some promotions to be compressed. Compression increases the sound level of quieter passages so the perception is created of more sound in the range in which the ear is most sensitive.

The objective is to give those items a greater audible impact. In contrast, many television programmes do not have their sound compressed to the same extent and, therefore, the differences between programmes and other material can be noticeable to the viewer.

It is also apparent that viewers perceive sound levels and frequencies differently; what may be annoying for some is not of concern to others. Viewing environments, type of viewer, age of viewer, type of programme, enjoyment level are all factors and it is not possible for broadcasters to take such variances into account when balancing sound levels.

Neither are television programme sound tracks always played at full volume. If there is a quiet scene just prior to a commercial break of, for example, two people whispering to each other the commercial will undoubtedly be perceived as louder than the programme. However, the peak volume during normal dialogue in that same programme would be at the same level as the commercials within the programme.

All these factors play a part in the outcome - that people do sometimes notice a difference in volume.