A new report claims the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill could cut advertising revenue at Irish media outlets by €20m.

The bill would address aspects such as minimum pricing, product labelling, and advertising.

The report was commissioned by a number of media companies including RTÉ and TV3.

The report's author, Economist Jim Power, said parts of the bill - which is working its way through the legislature - are to be welcomed, but he questioned whether the goals with relation to alcohol consumption based on advertising restrictions would be achieved.

"The international evidence wouldn't suggest the case is very strong," Mr Power stated. 

He also highlighted current pressures on media outlets. "Traditional media particularly is under very serious revenue pressures from competition, particularly digital online competition, to which these restrictions probably will not apply.

"If you take €20m out of €50m advertising revenue from the alcohol industry, it is going to leave a serious hole, and I think it's going to further exacerbate the already serious pressure on the Irish media sector."

Mr Power also said the current media model across the country is under sever pressure. "If you look at employment levels across print media, restructuring is an ongoing pressure because of the business reality facing the media industry. Of course media will have to react but I suspect the way it will react is just a continuation of a diminution of the size and the quality of the media product we get in this country."

Alcohol Action Ireland has challenged many of the observations in the report, saying they are "unnecessarily alarmist".

The organisation said the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill contains a range of measures designed to work cohesively to reduce alcohol consumption in Ireland so lessening alcohol related harms.

It added that, implemented together, they will provide a reasonable, pragmatic means to achieving the ambition of this progressive public health initiative.

The impact on total advertising revenues from the bill will be nominal, according to the organisation.

It cites recent advertising expenditure data from Nielsen (2016), that indicates total drink expenditure was €47m (exclusive of alcohol promotion by multiples).

Under the bill, drinks companies would still be allowed to advertise their brands, including an image of the product, an image or reference to its place of origin, its method of production, its price, its brand marque, its name, its logo, and a description of its flavour. 

Alcohol Action Ireland says: "The Bill does not propose to prohibit advertising of alcohol products. It contains a modest set of regulations principally on the content of advertisements that will limit the appeal of alcohol advertising, particularly to children."

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