Sarft sanitizes peak commercials

New regulations will also limit alcohol, erotic ads

SHANGHAI — Chinese viewers will not see commercials for sanitary napkins and hemorrhoid cream at mealtimes, thanks to 30 new regulations that came into effect on Jan. 1.

The rules, introduced by the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television (Sarft), slap a similar ban on athlete’s foot remedies — one of the many staples of the advertising market affected by the changes.

Limits have been set on the amount of commercials allowed in peak viewing times. From 7-9 p.m., ads are restricted to nine minutes per hour. Outside of that window, there is a limit of 2½ minutes on ads within drama series.

The rules also allow up to 12 alcohol commercials a day, and limit the size of company logos shown onscreen during sponsored programs to make them smaller than the channel logo.

There also is clarification on the role of journalists in TV advertorials. Reporters now can’t hide ads within genuine news items; also, advertisers are banned from disguising their commercials as news or regular programming.

Currently, lifestyle programming is dominated by thinly veiled promotions of sponsored products. Press packs issued to journalists during product launches and press conferences routinely contain monetary gifts, for which reporters are expected to provide favorable coverage.

The rules forbidding tobacco advertising also are restated, and there is a new ban on “erotic” or “sexual” commercials, a ruling that may hit the recent decision to allow condom ads.

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