Number of alcohol-commercials after 9 p.m. is trebled

27 December 2011

The effect of the legal prohibition of alcohol-advertising between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. has been nullified: 12 – 17 year olds see more alcohol-advertising in 2010 than previously.

To protect youngsters against the harmful influence of alcohol advertising in the Media, a law was introduced, a so-called “time lock”, between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.. Advertising for alcohol on radio and TV was prohibited from 2009 between these times. From research by the Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP) it now appears that this “time lock” has had no effect on 12-17 year olds. This is because the alcohol producers, after the introduction of the ‘time lock’, have trebled the number of TV-advertisements after 9 p.m.

New law: no more radio- and TV-advertising during the day and in the early evening
From January 1, 2009 it was forbidden to broadcast via radio and TV alcohol-advertising between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m in The Netherlands. The aim of this law was to push back the quantity of alcohol-advertising-messages to which youngsters are being exposed. The year 2009 was a transition-year. In 2010 no single alcohol advertisements should be seen between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.. Sponsoring of programs by alcohol producers was allowed under the Media law, before 9 p.m. as well as after it, be it inside the “time lock” but with limitations.
The Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP) has evaluated for the Ministry of VWS (Health, Welfare and Sport) the “time lock” for alcohol advertising. This research examined the influence of the introduction of the time restriction on the quantity of alcohol advertising – messages on radio and TV in 2009 (the transition year) and in 2010 (when the law was completely in force). Data from the Dutch Foundation Audience Survey give insight into the reach of the alcohol-advertising on TV with under-aged people in 2009 and 2010 compared with 2007.

Influence of alcohol-advertising: 12-17 year old is the greatest high-risk group
Research shows that alcohol-advertising is harmful for youngsters. Exposure to alcohol-advertising leads, in the short term, in the form of a direct imitation, - as well as in the long term - to a heightened consumption of alcohol (Anderson et al., 2009; Engels et al., 2009).
The greatest high-risk group are youngsters of 12-17 years: They have just started drinking, are sensitive for alcohol-advertising and see alcohol-advertising relatively more frequently than youngsters beneath 12 years of age.

Introduction of “time lock: after 9 p.m. there is now three times as much alcohol-advertising on TV
The total number of alcohol advertisements between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. (the time period during which rather in favour of alcohol may be advertised) has risen by 245,2% compared to 2008 (from 7.140 in 2008 to 16.031 in 2009, to 24.646 in 2010). There is talk of a broad trebling of the number of commercials after 9 p.m. (3.5 times as much as before the “time lock” was introduced). Immediately after 9 p.m. (between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.) when there is still a sufficient number of youngsters watching TV, the number of commercials has grown by 132,8% (from 2.313 in 2008 to 5.385 in 2010).

The total number of TV-commercials for alcohol has, after the introduction of the “time clock” on January 1, 2009, not decreased but increased from 12.727 commercials in 2008 to 16.496 in 2009, to 24.945 in 2010. There were in 2010 on an average of 68 alcohol-advertisements broadcast per day on TV.

Introduction of “time lock”: after 9 p.m. but there is now 2.5 time more alcohol-advertising on the radio
The total number of alcohol advertisements on the radio between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. (the time-period in which it still is allowed to advertise alcohol) has increased by 148,9% in 2010 compared to 2008 (from 659 in 2008 to 1640 in 2010). In short, there is talk of in 2010 of about 2.5 time as many radio-commercials after 9 p.m. compared to before the “time lock” was introduced

New advertisement-regulations turn out to have no effect for 12-17 year olds
Owing to the trebling of the number of alcohol advertisements on TV between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. has increased the effect of alcohol advertising. On the basis of the data of the Foundation Audience Survey (FAS) for the whole of 2010, it appears that the ‘risk-group’ of 12 – 17 year olds in 2010 saw significantly more alcohol-advertising than previously. The data shows that immediately after 9 p.m. more minors are exposed to alcohol-advertising and that they see more alcohol-advertising than before the introduction of the “time lock” spread out across the whole day.
In short, on average 1, 1 million minors are exposed to alcohol advertising on TV each week immediately after 9 p.m. This is more than was found in 2007 and 2009 (in a sample of four weeks).

Points scored under the new law
Despite the new law, more youngsters are being exposed to alcohol advertising than before, 2,4 million youngsters are not exposed before 9 p.m. by alcohol commercials. Besides it should be noted down that sponsoring still is permitted under certain conditions.

A few offences of the “time lock” on TV
Because the alcohol advertisement limitation of the new Media-law in 2009 was still in transition, there were in 2009 still a small number of alcohol-advertisements that were broadcast within the time-restriction (N = 465). In 2010 this number should have been zero.
However, the data from the Nielsen Media show that in 2010 there were still 84 regular alcohol commercials broadcast within the time-restriction (in particular RTL 4; 45 times). The RTL Group broadcasts from Luxembourg and falls outside the range of the Dutch Commissionership for the Media, but has promised to stick to the “time lock” for alcohol advertising.

Many offences of the “time lock” on the radio
The total number of radio commercials between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. has dropped from 2008 to 2010 by 61,1% (from 5.639 in 2008 to 2.191 in 2010). The fall in the total number of commercials within the “time lock” should however have been 100%. Of the 2.191 radio commercials for alcoholic beverages within the “time lock” 1.115 were broadcast by Radio 538- part of RTL The Netherlands.

Advertising-expenditure in 2010 risen by 25 million euros
The expenditure of the alcohol-advertisers (to hours of transmission). for the medium of television in 2010 was on the large scale of 82 million euros. This is more than 28,5 million euros than in 2008. For radio advertising in 2010 nearly 2 million euros was spent (compared to almost 3,5 million euros in 2008).

Research-report: ‘Evaluation of the alcohol-advertising-limitation on radio and TV in 2009 and 2010’.Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy –STAP- Utrecht, July 2011. The report is available on In the report are recommendations for adaptation of the time lock.

1.Anderson,P., Hastings, G., Angus, K.,de Bruijn, A. (2009). Impact of alcohol advertising and media exposure on adolescent alcohol use: a systematic review of longitudinal studies.
Alcohol and alcoholism published online January 14, 1-15
2.Engels, R.C.M.E., Hermans, R. Van Baaren, R.B., Hollenstein,T., & Bot S.M. (2009). Alcohol Portrayal on Television Affects Drinking Behaviour. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 44, 244-249.

For more information:
Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP)
Mr. Ir. W.E. van Dalen, director,
Tel.: 0031 (0) 30-6565041 / 0031 (0) 653295544
E-mail:; Internet:
Utrecht, December 27, 2011


Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP
P.O. Box 9769
3506 GT Utrecht
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30-6565041
F: +31 (0)30-6565043