Many people wonder what the rules about showing alcohol consumption on TV might be. Since this used to be a substance that was associated with a lot of stigma, there are lots of people who believe that they cannot show alcohol consumption on network TV when they are creating a film or informative piece. This can limit creativity and make it hard to explain certain situations.
Thankfully there are no federal laws that prohibit the showing of the drinking of alcohol on network TV. The FCC is silent on the topic these days, which opens up a lot of room for creative people to explore new storylines and activities in their TV content.
Does the Kind of Alcohol Matter?
These days, the kind of alcohol that is shown on TV is not relevant. However, there has always been an unspoken rule that was observed, which indicated that anything that was not hard liquor could be shown while hard liquor needed to be hidden away. This is no longer a necessary action, and viewing audiences will not judge characters more harshly based on what kind of drink they are shown consuming.
This stigma was never about the law and had more to do with social constraints and pressures. Through the mid-90s, people tended to judge those who drank anything other than beer as potential alcoholics. Thankfully, that stigma has been overridden by common sense. You can display any kind of alcohol that you wish in your content without fear of pressure to remove the media from the network.
What About Alcohol Product Placement?
This is a more complex question as this wanders into the area of sales and promotion for specific alcohols. Most TV producers do not name any specific brand of alcohol and prevent the branding of drinks from being shown in the content they are making. This is something that has to be done with care since you can be sued for suggesting specific brands, or the company in question could come after you for portraying their products in a light they do not appreciate.
It’s always best to cover up the labels of any product that is being shown or to just show glasses of alcohol without showing specific company names, logos, or information. This is also true of branding as a whole unless your production has a specific contract with a product and is being given permission to show this item in the content that is being produced.
Alcohol Can be Shown on Network TV
Times have changed since the 90s, and you can now show alcohol consumption on network TV without getting into trouble. This allows for the creation of more realistic content that can be consumed on major providers’ networks. Producers of network television content should be careful not to promote specific alcohol brands in their work, but otherwise, showing alcohol on network TV is totally acceptable today.
This article was last updated on January 10, 2023 .