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Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Dice-K, Beer, and the Feds

A follow-up to Michael's post about Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka taking a sip of beer in a Japanese-language television ad running only in Japan. Michael focused more on the ethics of the ad and of the close ties between professional sports and alcohol. He suggests (as I believe to be the case) the the prohibition on depicting someone drinking alcohol on television is a voluntary network regulation, not a requirement from the FCC or the FTC or other federal regulatory agency.

Well, maybe not . . .

Ilya Somin of the Volokh Conspiracy discusses here the fact that the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau ("ATTB") might be contemplating future punitive action against Dice-K because the ad violates its regulations prohibiting ads depicting athletes consuming (or about to consume) alcohol prior to or during competition or suggesting that drinking alcohol enhances health or athletic prowess.

Ilya quite rightly slams this as "inane overregulation." Putting to one side any First Amendment concerns (either under current doctrine or what the doctrine ought to be): The ad is not running in the United States or in a language that most people in the United States speak or understand. The federal government, not content with telling U.S. citizens what images they can see, now want to tell the people of Japan what images they can see.

Prediction: Any penalty imposed (and it remains a Big IF whether the ATTB will actually do anything) will be reversed because such extra-territorial application of U.S. law is disfavored.


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