Music vids promote alcohol abuse - study

A researcher says music videos heavy on positive portrayals of alcohol encourage increased drinking among young viewers. File photo / Greg Bowker
A researcher says music videos heavy on positive portrayals of alcohol encourage increased drinking among young viewers. File photo / Greg Bowker

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Alcohol portrayal in music videos is increasing, especially in RnB music, and steps to control the amount of alcohol seen on New Zealand screens need to be taken, researchers say.

Research from the University of Otago, Wellington, has today been released, comparing music videos in the past seven years.

The researchers compared 564 music videos which aired on Juice, C4, and TV2 in 2005 with 861 videos from Juice in 2010.

It found that while the overall proportion of music videos which showed alcohol content increased only from 15.7 per cent to 19.5 - which is not statistically significant - the alcohol content in R&B music videos was increasing at a statistically significant rate.

It went from 12 per cent in 2005 to 30 per cent in 2010.

In the 2010 sample an average of 2.7 music videos showed alcohol every hour.

In those videos with alcohol content, one third showed alcohol being consumed, and one third showed the main artist involved with alcohol.

Music videos with international artists were also more likely to include alcohol than those with New Zealand artists, she said.

Industry sponsorship does not appear to be happening too often, with only 2.4 per cent of the clips showing alcohol branding.

Researcher Fiona Imlach Gunasekara said the portrayal of alcohol in music videos shown in New Zealand was of concern, because research showed that watching music videos, especially those with a high level of positive alcohol portrayals, encouraged increased drinking with young people.

"The parliamentary select committee inquiry into alcohol reform also showed that we have a serious binge drinking problem in young people in New Zealand and a heavy drinking culture overall.

"This new research indicates we therefore need to think carefully about the amount of alcohol use portrayed on popular media and how to control it," she said.

Dr Imlach Gunasekara said a number of policy directions could be considered to address the issue, including all NZ On Air funded music videos having no reference to, or portrayal of, alcohol use.

Videos with alcohol content could also be restricted to late night timeslots.

- APNZ

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