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Restriction of alcohol advertising great, but how effective?

Author: Francis Doku
Lily Tugbah poses with the US Ambassador, Mr Robert Jackson. Who would she hand over to?
Lily Tugbah poses with the US Ambassador, Mr Robert Jackson. Who would she hand over to?

Earlier this year (which would be just last month, which ended just yesterday), the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) issued a statement that would change advertising of alcohol on radio and television in Ghana. That is if it is carried to the letter.

The statement, which was dated 5th January, 2018 and addressed to the News Editor was titled “Press Release - Restricted Time for Airing Alcoholic Beverage Advertisement On TV and Radio.” It was signed for the Acting Chief Executive Officer by the Head of Communications and Public Education at the FDA.

That statement reads in part “The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) wishes to remind the general public, especially the Media, Advertisers, as well as Manufacturers and Importers of alcoholic beverages that effective 1st January, 2018, advertisements on alcoholic beverages are supposed to be aired from 8pm to 6am only.”

What this means is that any advertising of alcohol on any radio or television station anywhere within the geographical region of Ghana should be after 8pm and end at 6am. Any advertising of alcohol outside these times would be a violation of the FDA directive.

The FDA reminds radio and television stations and by extension advertisers that this is not a new directive, but an existing guideline.

“This information, which is in the FDA's Guidelines for the Advertisements of Foods, has already been communicated to the general public through the media.


All media houses and advertisers are therefore urged to treat as important and comply in the interest of public health and safety,” the statement advised.

My interest in this directive by the FDA is very high because it is one of the pet peeves I have been writing about in this column for a long time. However, I am wondering how the FDA would monitor the stations to ensure that they comply with this directive.

The fact is that we are a nation very high on enactment of laws, but very low on implementation. We have all the good laws to make this country great, but we end up doing the exact opposite of what the laws say without attracting the concomitant punishment.

It is the reason why I am a bit sceptical about the ability of the FDA to enforce this new directive (which, as the statement noted, is not even new) to the letter. The fact is that there will be stations that would broadcast alcohol advertisements before 8pm and after 6am and get away with it.

Just two days ago, the FDA posted a new statement on its website naming radio stations that had violated another directive it gave about the advertisement of non-approved products on the radio and television.

“Per the FDA’s mandate, all advertisements of regulated products must be vetted and approved by the FDA prior to their being published in the media,” the FDA noted. “Over the years, it has been observed that some companies fail to obtain the requisite approval before publishing their adverts.”

The FDA notes again that “some companies go through the approval process but publish adverts that are different from the approved versions by adding on to the approved adverts rendering null and void the approval.”

This obviously is gross disobedience and clear disregard for public laws and should be condemned in no uncertain terms.

However, this epitomises how Ghanaians approach laws, rules, regulations and such official instruments made to protect the public and reason I am thinking the FDA will find it tough making this new directive work.

All over the world alcohol advertisement is regulated. There could be more reasons, but main reason for such directives is to protect minors from being exposed to same. It is in this regard that, in spite of, the possibility of it not being adhered to I still believe the FDA directive is in the right direction.

I honestly hope that the FDA would monitor this directive to ensure that all players stick to it.

GBC and GIBA on the media side should ensure that the advertisers and their agencies would comply with this directive and the FDA should activate the punitive measures associated with the violation of this directive.

THE SPELLING BEE HIVE IS ACTIVE FOR THE 11TH FINAL

This week is Bee Week and all the children taking in the final of The Spelling Bee from over the country have gathered in Accra to take part.

The Bee Week brings together children to take part in several activities that would ensure they prepare well towards the final.

Bee Week is usually capped with the National Final where one of the children who qualified would emerge as winner of The Spelling Bee.

Over the years, those who emerge as winners go on to represent Ghana at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the United States of America.

This year, the organisers of The Spelling Bee Ghana, Young Educators Foundation (YEF), put together a four-part television series that aired on TV3 over the past four Sundays.

It took a look at the process that led to the selection of the finalists for this year as well as the launch, the support from sponsors and related activities that make The Spelling Bee what it has become.

This year’s final, which would take place on Saturday, is the 11th since The Spelling Bee was introduced to Ghana.

The Executive Director of YEF, Eugenia Tachie-Menson, is very hopeful that a worthy winner would be chosen to represent Ghana at the next Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Many young children who have gone through The Spelling Bee in the previous 10 years that the scheme has been around have noted how their confidence had improved and how their vocabulary got bigger than before they took part in the competition.

Two years ago, a young lady called Afua Ansah emerged winner at The Spelling Bee Ghana and did very well when she represented Ghana at the Scripps.

A year after that, another young lady called Lily Tugbah emerged winner at the 10th anniversary edition and also had the privilege of representing Ghana at the Scripps.

The question is, who would it be this time when all the children gathered for Bee Week come together on Saturday to compete for the ultimate title? Would it be another girl after Afua and Lily or would a boy break the tradition? We’ll see the results on television when it’s done.