Nov 14 - South Africa has a proposed a bill that could see alcohol advertising being banned. As Sonia Legg reports advertising agencies say the bill could threaten the industry's survival and the economy with thousands of job losses.
The business of beer is seeing major changes in South Africa. Craft beers are emerging to tap into demand from an expanding middle-class. SAB Miller's Martin Brooks (SOUNDBITE) (English) SAB CHIEF MILLER, MARTIN BROOKS SAYING: "The new middle class now has disposable income to be able to afford these beers because remember craft beers are actually quite expensive than normal main stream beers." Oktoberfest-style beer festivals are also becoming popular - and women are increasingly being targetted. The idea is to reach new markets and boost business. But there's a problem The industry could be about to face one of its toughest challenges yet. South Africa wants to clamp down on irresponsible drinking. It's proposing a bill that could see adverts banned. Festus Masekwameng works for an advertising agency. They too are worried - 25-30% of the industry's revenue comes from alcohol (SOUNDBITE) (English) FESTUS MASEKWAMENG, EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR, MOJO MOTHER RUSSIA ADVERTISING AGENCY SAYING: "It's gonna be a big blow because there are too many companies that rely on that support to be able to employ people to be able to make an impact in the economy" South Africa's health ministry says alcohol abuse costs the economy 38 BILLION rand - that's 3.6 billion dollars. But some economists believe a ban could be equally costly. Rob Jeffrey from Econometrix carried out a study for the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use. He looked at the amount spent on advertising and compared it with alcohol consumption rates. (SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) ECONOMETRIX ROB JEFFREY: "To ban alcohol advertising is not going to make a significant difference to the actual consumption of the alcohol and certainly no the abuse. Sport and music could be hit too. Both industries have lucrative sponsorship deals with alcohol producers. Jeffrey estimates the ban could lead to 12,000 job losses and reduce GDP by 3/4 of a billion dollars