The Washington Times - July 16, 2009, 01:35PM

A hat tip to Reuters’ sports biz reporter Ben Klayman for tweeting on this.

News agencies from down under are reporting that Australia could consider a proposal to restrict the use of alcohol advertising in the sports world.

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The ban would prohibit manufacturers of beer, wine and spirits from advertising at stadiums or on television during sporting events.

The Courier-Mail suggests the ban would cost the sports industry in Australia as much as $300 million, or about $240 million in U.S. dollars.

Apparently, the push for a ban comes from a preventative health task force put together by the Australian government. Alcohol abuse is a big problem in Australia, with a social cost of more than $15 billion.

Imagine if a similar alcohol advertising ban were introduce in the United States. Here in America, every major sports league is heavily reliant on companies like Budweiser, Miller, Coors, Crown Royal and others for sponsorship dollars. The financial hit for the sports industry here would be enormous, possibly into the billions of dollars and certainly far more than in Australia.

The precise amount spent by alcohol companies on sports advertising is hard to determine, but Nielsen and TNS Media Intellegence both report that most beer companies, in particular, devote more than 80 percent of their media budgets to sports. And the largest companies like Anheuser-Busch and Miller have media budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

One wonders if the health effects of alcohol on the U.S. society would ever get bad enough for the government to consider a widespread ban on sports advertising.