Alcohol Advertising

There are some restrictions and limitations that impact what broadcasters can and cannot advertise. If you have specific questions, contact MAB.

Can a bar in Maine advertise a “half price happy hour”? Yes.

Can stations advertise hard liquor? Yes. Except for a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms regulation against giving the alcohol content of beer in a radio or TV commercial, there are no FCC or other federal regulations that prohibit or govern the advertising of alcoholic beverages by radio or TV stations. In the mid-1990s, the liquor industry trade council abandoned its long-standing voluntary ban on liquor ads.  The US Supreme Court’s decision in 44 Liquormart (1996) struck down a Rhode Island law prohibiting the advertising of liquor prices. However, stations may want to carefully review their own or their owners’ policies and the moral and ethical issues involved before accepting hard-liquor advertising.

Can a bar or restaurant advertise “free” liquor, for example: “free champagne at midnight when you join us for New Year’s Eve”? No. Under Maine law, it is illegal for the holder of a liquor license to offer or deliver any free drinks. Likewise, it is illegal to offer to sell or deliver an unlimited number of drinks for a set price, except at private functions not open to the public. However, it is permissible to advertise liquor as part of an all-inclusive, fixed-price package.

Where can I get an answer to a specific question about advertising alcohol? Specific questions concerning alcohol advertising may be directed to the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, (207) 287-3721. You can also view Maine’s liquor laws and liquor-licensee rules and regulations online.