Many people wonder about whether or not drinking can be legally shown on TV. This is one of the things that has changed over time, and as social awareness about drinking has undergone a change. There have been eras where showing drinking on TV was not forbidden but was discouraged. Today, drinking on TV is not that big of a deal and does not cause much in the way of concern.
There is no rule or law that says that you cannot drink on TV or show fictional characters drinking on TV. You can actually do those things without any risk of legal action being taken against you. Most of the original prohibitions to do with showing drinking on TV had more to do with social norms that were in place through the 90s.
Are Commercials the Same as TV?
This is the arena that can make showing alcohol being served on your show can be more complex. Advertising for controlled substances is not allowed on TV. This is why smoking is no longer advertised during regular television hours and so forth. So, if you are going to show alcohol and other kinds of drinking behaviors on a show, you need to be sure that you are not naming any specific alcohol or showing the labels of bottles or containers.
You have probably noticed that shows often remove the labels from beer bottles or will just make sure that people have glasses of unnamed alcohol in their hands in these scenes. This is to avoid issues with branding and the need to pay to use a company name. It also avoids issues to do with the promotion of certain specific brands of alcohol to consumers, which falls into advertising and is not considered free to use for dramatic license.
Product placement on TV has a lot of laws and regulations associated with it, and you need to be careful about this issue when you produce content. Being caught doing the wrong things when it comes to product placement can be costly, and it can lead to legal issues as well.
TV and Drinking Can Mix if You Are Careful About Branding Issues
You can show drinking on TV so long as you do not step on the branding laws or the advertising laws that are in place at this time. Keeping specific labels and company names out of the context of the situation can make sure that you can show drinking in a situation without issues. This is a different time and the 80s and 90s when drinking on TV was considered a bit more risqué and not ideal for social reasons. Beer has always been considered more appropriate to show, but hard alcohol can be displayed these days as well without legal action being taken against a TV show.
This article was last updated on February 7, 2023 .