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CSPI Challenges NCAA Alcohol Ad Claims

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The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) claims to have the “most conservative and restrictive approach to advertising of any sports organization,” but the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says that the rate of beer advertising during the 2008 NCAA Final Four basketball tournament was twice that of college football’s recent Bowl Championship Series.

The New York Times reported Jan. 17 that a CSPI study concluded that 12 percent of all Final Four ads were for beer, compared to 6 percent of BCS ads. CSPI said that 23 of 196 Final Four ads were for beer, compared to 22 of 380 BCS ads.

“Here the colleges acknowledge that they have an alcohol problem among their students,” said George Hacker, director of CSPI’s alcohol policies project. “They are spending a lot of resources to try to reduce those problems. And at the same time they are selling those students and other young people out to beer marketers, profiting from the promotion of alcoholic beverages.”

Bob Williams, a spokesperson for the NCAA, accused CSPI of “misrepresenting facts” associated with Final Four advertising. Williams said that NCAA limited beer ads to sixty seconds per each hour of Final Four broadcasting: the 2008 broadcasts ran a total of seven hours, including six minutes of beer ads.

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