and Magruder, 1992) have been raised as particularly salient issues. Recent changes in alcohol advertising policies, such as the decision by distillers to end a self-imposed ban and begin advertising on television, has raised further concerns about alcohol advertising and its potential effects on young people (Snyder, Fleming-Milici, Mitchell, and Proctor, 2000).
Adolescents are heavy users of television. Extrapolating from recent data obtained from a nationally representative survey, 11- to 13-year-olds watch 27.7 hours and 14- to 18-year-olds watch 20.2 hours of broadcast and taped television programming each week (Roberts, Foehr, Rideout, and Brodie, 1999a). As a result, they are immersed in drinking portrayals and alcohol product placements. A recent content analysis of primetime television from the 1998-1999 season, for example, indicates that 71 percent of all programming depicted alcohol use and 77 percent contained some reference to alcohol (Christensen, Henriksen, and Roberts, 2000). Among those programs most popular with teenagers, 53 percent portrayed alcohol use; 84 percent of TV-14-rated programming, 77 percent of TV-PG programming, and 38 percent of TV-G programming depicted alcohol use. More episodes portrayed drinking as an overall positive experience (40 percent) rather than a negative one (10 percent), although negative consequences were mentioned or portrayed in 23 percent of episodes. Underage drinking was relatively rare. Only 2 percent of regular characters under the age of 18 were depicted drinking alcohol. In another recent content analysis, however, characters between the ages of 13 to 18 were found to account for 7 percent of all alcohol incidents portrayed (Mathios, Avery, Bisogni, and Shanahan, 1998). When it occurs, youthful drinking or expressed desire to drink is often presented as a means of appearing to be adult and grownup (Grube, 1995). Other research suggests that drinkers tend to be regular characters, of high socioeconomic status, attractive, and glamorous (Mathios et al., 1998; Wallack, Grube, Madden, and Breed, 1990), although youthful drinkers are depicted in a less favorable light than older drinkers. Drinking is often treated as humorous and is associated with valued outcomes such as camaraderie (Hundley, 1995). Although common when considered at the program level, the prevalence of drinking characters is considerably below that for the U.S. population. Thus, in a recent analysis of primetime programming, only 11 percent of characters over the age of 34 were drinkers compared with 52 percent of similarly aged adults in the U.S. population (Long, O’Connor, Gerbner, and Concato, 2002). Only 14 percent of characters between ages 18 and 34 drank and only 2 percent