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Posted by Eric Mu on Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 4:00 PM
China's media regulator SARFT has vowed to step up its efforts to clean up illegal and distasteful commercials from television broadcasts.
This push comes after a dispute caused by a selection of screen shots circulating on the Internet which showed a text crawl for a sexually transmitted disease medicine superimposed over CCTV-1's Network News broadcast. The TV station which is responsible for the blunder was found to be the Dongtai TV station in Jiangsu Province, but similar commercials have aired on many other TV stations.
In a meeting held in Yangzhou yesterday, Ren Qian, a vice director from the Social Administration Department of SARFT, said that there are some advertisements from medications that violated the laws banning drug companies from using people in their commercials who attest to the effectiveness of the product. Though some of the medications have been approved by authorities, SARFT believes advertisers use these kind of testimonials to exaggerate the effectiveness of their product and thus "mislead the audience."
It is also currently illegal to overlay advertisements over any national broadcast. Of the scrolling advertisements for STD medication aired over CCTV news hour by Dongtai TV station, Ren says this "shameless" incident is evidence of "malicious competition" between the TV stations.
SARFT has also pledged to eliminated advertisements that are "low and vulgar," though they may still be legal under current laws. Among the list of companies airing commercials SARFT disapproves of are two of China's most publicized health care medications: Naobaijin ('Brain Platinum') and Huangjin Dadang ('Gold Partner'). The products have been advertised on many TV channels, including CCTV-1, for years.
Both products are the brainchildren of China's marketing guru Shi Yuzhu whose signature promotion tactic is bombarding the market with commercials.
Vice director Ren says the slogans in these advertisements are misleading and could have negative effect on the young people's values. Naobaijin's slogan goes, "No one receives any gift but Naobaojin this spring festival!" and Huangjin Dadang says, "Send it to your teacher, send it to your relatives, send it to your leaders!" Some people perceive these slogans as encouraging the Chinese 'gift-giving' tradition which is sometimes difficult to distinguish from bribery.
To save TV viewers from overexposure to "low" commercials, Ren also said that advertisements for underwear, bras and menstrual pads are only allowed late at night, and medications for diseases like hemorrhoids, which might repulse some of the audience, are banned from being advertised during the hours when people are most likely be eating meals. The rules are not new, but neither have been fully enforced, despite the best efforts of the authorities.
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