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Misleading TV-Radio Ads to Be Banned
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Across the country from next month television and radio commercials for breast-enhancement treatments and weight-loss products and equipment will be banned. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) announced the ban on Wednesday.


The move targets misleading advertisements in which supposed research results for various treatments are exaggerated and "experts and patients" are used to show the "magic effects" of the remedies, according to the two bodies.


Zhao Jian, deputy director of the SAIC's advertising supervision department, said the problem was "very serious" and had harmed consumers' legitimate rights and interests. "Misleading commercials have also affected the credibility of radio and television," he said.


The Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce (BAIC) received only one complaint about TV direct-selling commercials in 2004 but the number jumped to 451 last year. The complaints focused on exaggerated claims about products and their poor quality, according to the BAIC.


Early this month consumer rights watchdogs said they were investigating a breast enhancement treatment which promised to transfer unwanted weight from the hips to the breasts.


Bolibao, a "miracle" treatment touted on 17 TV stations, was accused in a China Central Television documentary of causing gynecological problems and of having no effect at all.


So far the ban has gained wide public support and recognition from large TV shopping companies. Nine out of 10 people randomly surveyed on the street by China Daily said such commercials should have been banned a long time ago.


Deng Chuanmei, a 40-year-old mother, said she felt embarrassed when she saw some of the breast enhancement advertisements on TV especially when she was with her husband or 15-year-old son. "Some of them are like pornographic movies," she said.


More than 1,000 people have also expressed support for the ban on which is one of China's largest websites.


Large TV shopping firms such as the Shanghai Seven Star TV Shopping Company said the ban would better regulate the market and benefit the industry in the long run.


"We'll suffer a loss of about 20 percent in business and a large number of small companies may face closure," a sales manager at the company said. "But we consider the policy positive for a healthy TV shopping industry."


Advertisement rates are around 5,000 yuan (US$625) per minute for such commercials which can last anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes, he said.


At about 2:00 PM on Wednesday, 18 of the country's 53 TV channels were broadcasting such commercials, according to a report by The First, a daily newspaper in Beijing.


However, Zhu Changhao, vice chairman of the China Association of Pharmaceutical Commerce, urged the governing bodies to issue harsh punishments for any violations. "Otherwise I'm not optimistic about the result of the ban," he said.


(China Daily July 21, 2006)

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