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September 12, 2009

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TV dramas face limits on ads

CHINA has set limits on advertisements during prime-time television dramas and also tightened regulations on six types of products and services in its latest rules governing commercials.

Prime-time commercials will be limited to one minute and can be aired only once during each 45-minute episode of a TV series that is shown between 7pm and 9pm. It is the first time that authorities have specifically restricted the length and frequency of ads during the telecast of prime-time TV series.

But the new rules, which come into effect from next year, give more commercial time to those TV series shown in non-prime hours. Each episode will be allowed to air two commercials within 1.5 minutes each, compared with only one ad within 2.5 minutes in one episode now.

The rules also prohibit ads involving advertorial, tobacco, prescription drugs, superstitious tests and phone chat services, exaggerating the effects of drugs as well as milk commercials advocating breast-milk substitutes, according to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

Public service advertisements should take up 3 percent of all ads, with at least four PSAs running during prime-time -- between 11am and 1pm for radio and between 7pm and 9pm for television.

"I don't think it will impact the advertising company so much as there are many new media especially digital media, which still need advertisements," said Michelle Wang, account manager of a major advertiser.

But Shanghai's major TV broadcaster feels that the new rules will affect the telecast of ads during prime-time shows and programs next year.

"The current ad length per episode during our prime-time TV series is 2.5 minutes." said Wu Xiaofeng, deputy director of the advertisement center of the Shanghai Media Group. "We will probably raise the prime-time ad price if we have to cut the number to rebalance demand and supply."

Wu added that the new regulation will not lead to a large drop in ad profits as TV stations can now count on new advertising methods such as set-in ad and title sponsorship.

Television stations that break the rules face a maximum fine of 30,000 yuan (US$4,412) and the loss of the operational license.


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