New study shows advertizing for alcohol is prevalent in UK television

A new study in the Journal of Public Health indicates that advertising for alcohol is common in British television, and may be a potential driver of alcohol use in young people.

It is estimated that the rate of alcohol consumption in those over 15 in the UK is the eighth highest in Europe. Alcohol use was responsible for at least 6813 deaths in the country in 2015, and cost the NHS £3.5 billion in 2013-14.

There is strong evidence that exposure to advertising or other alcohol imagery in the media increases subsequent use in adolescents. An estimated 28 million British households have at least one television and in 2015 the average viewing was 3 hours and 47 minutes a day. Previous studies have found that alcohol imagery appeared frequently in studies of UK television; some 40 per cent of programs contained alcohol content.

In 2015, researchers quantified the content of all programs and advertisements broadcast on the five, free access, national UK channels. The researchers here explored the differences in content between channels and genres, and compared these with the findings of a similar study in 2010.

A total of 611 programs and 1140 commercials were recorded during the peak viewing hours, between 6 and 10 pm, from Monday to Sunday in three separate weeks. Alcohol imagery occurred most frequently in the news, current affairs programs, and soap operas.

This study demonstrates that alcohol imagery is extremely common on UK television, occurring in over 50% of all programs broadcast and almost 50% of all advertising periods between programs. The majority of alcohol content occurred before 9 pm. Branding occurred in 18% of programs and 11% of advertisement periods and involved 122 brands, though three brands (Heineken, Corona, and Fosters) accounted for almost half of all brand appearances.

Alcohol content shown on TV has an effect on the uptake of alcohol use in young people. This analysis shows that television remains a major source of alcohol exposure to young people in the UK and is likely to continue to be a contributor to alcohol uptake by young people, with levels of content slightly higher than the researchers observed in the earlier analysis of program content from 2010.

“There is strong evidence that viewing alcohol advertising or imagery has an uptake on subsequent alcohol use in young people,” said Alexander Barker, research fellow at the Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies. “Our study shows that alcohol imagery, including branding, is regularly broadcast on prime-time TV, when children and adolescents are likely to be watching. Tighter scheduling rules from the Advertising Standards Agency and Ofcom (broadcast regulator), such as restricting alcohol advertisements and alcohol imagery in programs, to after the 9 p.m. watershed, could prevent children and adolescents being exposed to this content.”

Bulgarian President, high courts name three new Constitutional Court judges

The joint assembly of Bulgaria’s two high courts elected two new Constitutional Court judges on October 26, followed several hours later by President Roumen Radev making his own appointment to fill one of the four vacancies that will open next month.

Pavlina Panova, deputy head of the Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC), and Nadezhda Djelepova, deputy head of the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC), were elected after two rounds of voting, from among 10 candidates, by the 169 judges in the two courts.

As is traditional, the high court judges kept to the informal arrangement that both the SCC and the SAC are equally represented on the Constitutional Court.

Panova, who started her career as a prosecutor and became a judge in 1994, is head of SCC’s penal college and one of Bulgaria’s ad hoc judges at the European Court of Human Rights. Djelepova’s 34-year career in the judiciary includes 17 years in the SAC, where she is now head of the department that handles property registry, construction permit, excise and customs cases.

Later in the day, the presidency announced Atanas Semov, a member of Radev’s legal advisory council, as the nominee for the fourth and final spot on the Constitutional Court.

Semov, a former deputy speaker of Parliament and one-time presidential candidate, had the requisite 20 years legal experience and was “a recognised authority” in Bulgaria and abroad, the presidency said in a statement.

Semov was Bulgaria’s nominee for a EU Court of Justice advocate-general position in 2015, but was withdrawn after a negative appraisal by a consultative committee, which cited his insufficient legal experience at the highest level, according to reports at the time.

He had been previously nominated for the Constitutional Court from the parliamentary quota in 2012, but did not win enough support.

Panova, Djelepova and Semov will be joined by Krassimir Vlahov, the former deputy head of the SCC, who was elected earlier this month by Parliament, in taking their seats on the Constitutional Court.

Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court has 12 sitting judges, appointed for nine-year terms, without an option for a second one. They are appointed by all three branches of government – four by Parliament, four by the president and four by the joint assembly of the judges in the Supreme Court of Cassation and the Supreme Administrative Court.

Every three years, four judges are replaced – this year, this includes one judge appointed by Parliament (Tsanka Tsankova), two elected by their fellow judges (Roumen Nenkov and Stefka Stoeva) and one appointed by the president (Keti Markova). The terms of the four sitting judges expire on November 12.

Romanian justice minister demands prosecutor general’s dismissal

BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Romania’s justice minister on Wednesday demanded the prosecutor general’s dismissal, accusing him of exceeding his authority in a move that could heighten concerns in Brussels about democratic values in some eastern EU member states.


Other recent steps by Romania’s ruling Social Democrats to change the justice system and replace senior judicial officials have triggered massive street protests, and sparked worries about the rule of law at the European Commission and among diplomats.

Justice Minister Tudorel Toader read a summary of a 20-point report that he had compiled, calling for Prosecutor General Augustin Lazar to be fired on the grounds that he was responsible for “acts and facts intolerable to the rule of law.”

Lazar is the last major figure in an anti-corruption drive that has won praise from Brussels for exposing high-level corruption, including the theft of EU funds.

He condemned Toader’s bid to oust him. “(This) is the way that the executive, by way of the justice minister, demonstrates its understanding about respect for prosecutors’ independence,” he told reporters.

Lazar oversees thousands of prosecutors, including anti-organised crime unit DIICOT and anti-corruption unit DNA.

The DIICOT leader’s mandate has expired, and the head of the DNA, Laura Codruta Kovesi, was fired in July after a performance review similar to Lazar’s. Critics say their potential replacements might be soft on crime.

Under Romanian law, the president must sign off on petitions to dismiss chief prosecutors, which are requested by the justice minister and also need approval from a judicial watchdog.

However, the Constitutional Court ruled earlier this year that the president does not have the right to oppose such a request from the justice minister. As a result, President Klaus Iohannis had to sack the DNA’s Kovesi in July.

Iohannis will be limited to assessing the legality of the procedure. Analysts have said the constitutional court’s ruling increased the government’s power over prosecutors.

Transparency International ranks Romania as one of the EU’s most corrupt states and Brussels has kept its justice system under special monitoring since it joined the bloc in 2007.

Anti-corruption prosecutors have convicted thousands of public officials, including lawmakers and ministers.

Among them is Social Democrat leader Liviu Dragnea who has a two-year suspended jail sentence in a vote-rigging case. He was also sentenced to three and a half years in jail in a separate abuse of office case. He denies all charges and has appealed.

The European Commission, which is already seeking sanctions against Poland and Hungary for flouting democratic values, fears Romania is following suit. It is due to release its latest justice monitoring report on Romania in November.

False Rape Accuser: Sophie Skinner

A mother-of-three has been jailed for falsely claiming she was raped.

Sophie Skinner, 25, from Llanfoist in Monmouthshire, denied perverting the course of justice but was found guilty by a jury.

Newport Crown Court was told the life of her victim Damon Osborne was “turned upside down” by the accusation in 2016.

She was sentenced to 18 months in prison by Judge Daniel Williams after he said she had shown “no remorse at all”.

The court heard that Skinner went out drinking in Abergavenny “looking for attention” on Saturday, 4 June in 2016.

CCTV showed her in a Wetherspoons pub, before going to public toilets in White Horse Lane.

“You then saw Damon Osborne who was waiting for a lift home – at the time he was 18 and you were 23,” Judge Williams said.

“You ran over to him and hugged him… the CCTV at the toilets could not be clearer – you initiated the sex with him.

“When he gave into your persistent demands for sex you told him you could get him into trouble for having sex with you.”


The court was told that Skinner then made a false claim that she had been raped to Wetherspoons’ door staff, and was interviewed by police.


Mr Osborne “strenuously and completely truthfully” denied the accusation, Judge Williams said.

“After a commendably swift review of the evidence by police, the decision was properly made that Damon Osborne would not be prosecuted for the claim made, and to arrest you,” he added.

Mr Osborne said since he was accused in 2016 his life had “been a mess” in a victim statement.

After a jury in the first trial against Skinner failed to reach a verdict, he agreed to give evidence against her again.

“I was accused of rape by Sophie Skinner, that turned my life upside down,” Mr Osborne said.

“I was locked up for 17 hours, I had to undergo an embarrassing medical.

“I still think of the worst case scenario – if there had been no CCTV in this case – Sophie Skinner would have been believed and I would not have been giving this statement, because I would be in jail.”

‘No empathy’

Judge Williams described Skinner’s allegation of rape as “patently false”.

“You maintain your denials,” he said.

“You have no victim empathy, you have no remorse at all.”

“As the court have said before rape is a repulsive crime. The victims of rape should be treated with every possible consideration.

“On the other hand, just because rape is a repulsive crime, a false accusation can have dreadful consequences.”

Judge Williams said such accusations could have an “insidious” effect on genuine victims, sometimes “allowing doubt to creep in where none should exist”.

The court heard Skinner had never been in trouble with the police before, but she had been taken into care as a child and was described as “a vulnerable young woman”.

She was sentenced to 18 months, of which she was told she would serve half before being released on licence.