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September 10, 2009

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Illegal flyers' days numbered

THE city this year stepped up its campaign against those who post illegal flyers and the initiative has met resounding success.

Offenders not only face fines, but will also have their mobile phones disconnected.

Under the new system, people who leave illegal flyers on the street will receive two messages on their phones ordering them to go to district-based greenery and public sanitation bureaus within 48 hours to receive official warnings and fines.

Those who ignore the SMS alerts will have their mobile phones shut off within two working days.

Up to July this year, 7,739 mobile phone numbers received SMS warnings and 5,766 came forward and were fined more than 590,000 yuan (US$86,420), the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau said yesterday.

Fines range from 50 yuan to 500 yuan for posting advertising flyers. In the seven months, more than 7,000 mobile phone numbers have been switched off.

Most were reconnected after the number owners showed up and paid fines.

"The SMS system is more effective and cheaper," said Liu Weiguang, a bureau official.

This year, the bureau detected 1,289 cases per month and 22.7 percent of these received penalties.

"People come here to face the music because the phone numbers are important for their business and social networks," Liu said.

Shanghai adopted a system in late 2003 to combat illegal flyers by frequently calling the numbers left on pamphlets. However, the results were poor as many mobile phone users just transferred or blocked the calls.

The government had to pay about 230,000 yuan every year to run the system.

"The cost of administration was too high and had little effect," Liu said.

Tips from the public about illegal flyers can direct to the bureau's hot line, 52901111. Tipsters will receive a bonus if the information is useful, according to the bureau.


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