How Advertising Standards regulate the promotion of alcoholic beverages in Uganda

The Uganda Communications Commission is mandated under section 5(1) (b) of the Uganda Communications Act. No. 1 of 2013 to monitor, inspect, license, supervise, control and regulate communication services in Uganda. Further, section 5(1) (x) of the same Act mandates the Commission to set standards, monitor, and enforce compliance relating to content in Uganda.

In exercising this mandate, after public consultations, the Commission published the Advertising Standards aimed at regulating communication of advertisements on all platforms regulated by the Commission under the Act; that is radio, television, and online media.

These Advertising Standards serve to ensure that:

  1. All advertisements abide by the existing laws
  2. All advertisements show responsibility and protection of consumers
  3. All advertisements are decent, honest and truthful
  4. There is conformity to the principles of fair competition in the business

Advertising of alcoholic beverages is covered under Annex 13 of the Advertising Standards. Here, the Standards offer guidance on how such advertisement may be carried and aired by broadcasters.

Advertising Standards state that commercial communications for alcoholic drinks shall not encourage excessive consumption of alcohol or present abstinence or moderation in a negative light.

Advertisers are also prohibited from featuring, implying or condoning irresponsible drinking.

In addition, alcohol adverts must not claim that alcohol has therapeutic qualities or that it is a stimulant, a sedative, tranquillizer or a means of resolving personal conflicts.

Further, alcohol advertisement should not create an impression that using such beverages contribute to sexual attraction, sexual performance, and social success. Such advertisements must also not link alcohol with daring, toughness, aggression or unruly, irresponsible or anti-social behaviour.

Since the sale and consumption of alcohol is limited to adults (persons of and over the age of 18), any alcoholic advertisement should not target children or in any way depict children consuming such beverages, or even such advertisements should not be carried in programs aimed at children.

Alcopops (ready mixed drink resembling a soft drink yet containing alcohol) or products of similar nature are not supposed to be advertised unless they are clearly identified as alcoholic drinks.

Advertisers and broadcasters are called upon to adhere to Advertising Standards, which are essentially a guide on how they can deliver their message to alcohol consumers without breaching the existing laws.

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