China pursues TV and ad violators

SARFT limits ads to 15% of b'cast day

BEIJING — Chinese television authorities have moved to halt a resurgence of unauthorized advertising on local terrestrial and cable TV channels.

In some markets the ratio of programming to commercial minutes during primetime was almost one to one, with ads appearing every four to five minutes.

Local TV stations commonly edit in scrolling text advertisements or full TVCs on relayed broadcasts — a practice prohibited by China’s TV and advertising laws.

After violators

A five-point notice was recently issued by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), amplifying its policy and announcing that it would carry out a national investigation to ferret out violations.

In its notice, the org reiterated that no insertion of local TVCs into programming was allowed, nor were local stations to have advertising take up more than 15% of the broadcast day (12% during primetime).

In addition, it said inserting scrolling text ads was prohibited.

It required local SARFT bureaus to identify any violators and punish the most egregious with fines or license suspensions.

One of the main targets of advertising piracy is CCTV, especially around its nightly news and weather forecast.

In issuing the notice, the SARFT said it was trying to protect both legitimate advertisers and the consumer.

Xian case

A recent case in Xian, capital of Shaanxi province, illustrated the problem quite well.

A viewer sued Xian Cable TV for inserting too many commercials during the primetime broadcast of the hit TV drama series, “Princess Huanzhu.”

According to the plaintiff, on July 7, the station aired 89 commercials during one episode of the series.

On another night, it peppered one episode with seven commercial breaks, the longest comprising 20 different ads.

The viewer demanded that Xian Cable publish a public apology, give up all advertising income for the series and pay him unspecified damages. The case is currently awaiting a verdict.

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