China tightens ads ahead of Oct. 1

SARFT reiterates bans on certain products

BEIJING -- China tightened enforcement of broadcast advertising regulations and reiterated bans on ads for certain products, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television announced Thursday.

The statement, posted to SARFT's Web site, specifically prohibited advertising for six types of products or services: advertorial, or paid ads appearing in the guise of news reports; tobacco products; prescription drugs; treatments for cancer, liver disease, sexually transmitted diseases and sexual performance improvement enhancers; fortune telling and phone chat services; and "breast-milk substitutes."

It mandated that advertising on both TV and radio would be limited to 12 minutes per programming hour, but permitted 18 minutes of advertising between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm, and 7:00 and 9:00 pm. Public service announcements should occupy 3% of all ads, with at least four PSAs running during those two prime-time slots.

SARFT also restricted the number of slots and time of day when alcohol-related ads could be shown, along with keeping certain medical ads off the air during dinner hours.

Violators face fines of 20,000 yuan (US$2929) to 30,000 yuan depending on the infraction, along with possible revocation of their broadcast license, an unlikely punishment in a country where all radio and television stations are completely state-owned and operated.