China cracks down on 'vulgar' TV

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SHANGHAI -- The latest in a series of moves leading up to China's biggest Communist party meeting in years saw broadcast media censors ban on all "vulgar" and sexually explicit material from the airwaves, state media reported late Tuesday.

The rules, which reiterate and tighten unwritten practices in the closely monitored media industry, may be part of an effort to boost the Communist party's image as the protector of social morality in advance of next month's 17th Communist Party Congress.

Commercials featuring sexually suggestive language or behavior or scantily dressed women are "detrimental to society," the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said Tuesday, according to Xinhua.

The ban includes commercials and programs involving drugs, sex-related health supplements, drugs for sexually transmitted diseases, sex toys as well as "vulgar" ads for breast enhancement and female underwear.

"Sexually suggestive ads and bad ads not only mislead consumers seriously and harm public health, but are socially corrupting and morally depraving, and directly discredit the radio and TV industry," the SARFT statement, dated Friday, said.

SARFT published on its Web site a long list of rules restricting "American Idol"-style shows including the successful "My Hero" and "Super Girl" shows and banned audience voting by phone or Internet.

Since Sept. 5, China's broadcasting watchdog has punished broadcasters of 18 radio talk shows that broached sexual topics. And last month, a group of reality shows depicting explicit scenes of cosmetic or sex-change surgery were banned. Other shows including "Red Question Mark," a show that depicts crimes performed by women, have been targeted.

In July, SARFT called on broadcasters to halt ads with sexual or otherwise inappropriate content from TV broadcasts. The move resulted in in broadcasters dropping 1,466 ads -- representing $267 million in revenue -- since August, according to SARFT statistics.

The administration warned that stations that fail to monitor the quality of commercials and programs will face severe penalties, according to the report.
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