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City to silence taxi video ads

THE vertigo-inducing video ads that afflict Shanghai taxi passengers are being phased out, and other backseat clutter will be a receding image in the rear-view mirror over the next couple months.

Cab company managers have been ordered to rid their vehicles of almost all interior advertising as a result of numerous complaints from riders and government advisers.

New rules banning ads within taxi interiors went into effect at beginning of this month but will take a few months to be fully implemented. The new regulations are part of a campaign to make the city's visual landscape easier on the eyes.

The rules say that taxi operators must remove all video screens immediately after their contracts end and that new contracts are prohibited. The video pitches have been running for several years, primarily in taxies that are part of the Bashi and Jinjiang fleets.

But many riders criticized them for creating sight and sound pollution that was impossible to escape. Some riders even reported they were injured when crashing into a screen when a cab swerved or braked hard.

For commercial screens that are still under contract, taxi operators have until the end of the year to add controls so passengers can turn off the image and the sound. The videos now start to run automatically when the taxi meter starts.

Taxi companies must ensure the screen structures are safe for riders and they must compensate any passengers injured by the equipment, the rules say.

Taxi fleets must remove most other kinds of advertisements inside their cabs before the end of June, the rules say.

The only permissible spots for interior ads will be in the areas below the windows in the back seat, and advertisements there are required to be less than 15 centimeters wide.

Companies that fail to comply face fines ranging from 2,000 yuan (US$293) to 20,000 yuan.

About 43,000 registered taxies are now in service in Shanghai.

Guan Lu, an official at Dazhong Taxi's No. 3 Branch, said workers have removed a newspaper and commercial flier holder that used to hang on the front passenger seats of its 682 taxies.

Hu Guang, a lawyer and a member of the city's chief advisory body, was among those calling for action. He urged in a proposal early this year that lawmakers put a stop to the video commercials in taxies.

He said many riders had complained they were offended because the videos robbed them of a peaceful commute. Passengers should have the right to choose the services offered by taxies, Hu said.


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