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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 September 2006, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Brewers defend music sponsorship
Franz Ferdinand perform at T in the Park
Festivals like T In The Park are sponsored by famous beer brands
The drinks industry has reacted angrily to a call for the government to ban brewers from sponsoring live music.

Events like the Reading Festival could be affected if the government acts on advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

It says alcohol adverts at music venues are contributing to an increase in drinking amongst young people.

T In The Park sponsor InBev said a ban would make little difference and accused the ACMD of grabbing headlines.

The company, which owns brands including Stella Artois and Tennent's, has backed T in the Park, which takes place each August at Balado, near Kinross in western Scotland.

It said many cultural events in the UK would not happen "if drinks companies didn't provide funding".

Carling have sponsored Leeds and Reading for nine years with no downside on the state of the nation
Melvin Benn
Mean Fiddler
It claims that "more forward-thinking" government advisors believe sponsorship "should be used to try and educate people about the responsible use of alcohol".

"'It would appear that the government have not got enough to do," said Mean Fiddler Music Group managing director Melvin Benn, whose Reading and Leeds festivals are branded the Carling Weekend.

"Carling have been sponsors of Leeds and Reading for nine years with no downside on the state of the nation as I see it."

Code of practice

The Portman Group, which regulates the brewing industry, said it was "satisfied" with how its code of practice regulated sponsorship deals.

"The code is appropriate and generally very well observed," it said in a statement.

"Nevertheless, it's important not to be complacent about the industry and social responsibility and we are shortly to carry out a review of the code."

It is not known how the ACMD's recommendations would affect music venues named after big-name alcohol brands, such as the Carling Academy chain, led by its flagship venue in Brixton, south London.

The Academy Music Group was unavailable for comment.

'Consumption has doubled'

A festivalgoer takes a break at the Reading Festival
Events like the Reading Festival could be affected
The ACMD report says British children are some of the biggest cannabis, alcohol and tobacco users in Europe.

"Over the last 10 to 12 years, particularly among young women, our consumption of alcohol has virtually doubled," said the council's chairman, Dr Laurence Gruer.

The report calls for measures such as raising duty on alcohol and increasing the legal smoking age from 16 to 18 in order to combat the problem.

It also suggests a ban on alcohol advertising on television and in most cinemas.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority says the UK's regulations on advertising alcohol are already very tough, having been strengthened in 2004.

"The ASA gets very few complaints about alcohol advertising, but we will follow anything that does get said by the government," said a spokeswoman.

The government does not have to act on the ACMD's proposals, but the council is an influential body and ministers re-classified cannabis on its recommendation.

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