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TV Stations Continue Defiance of Ban on Illegal Ads

About a third of the Chinese television stations caught airing illegal advertisements have continued to broadcast the commercials despite warnings from the national broadcasting authority.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) caught 224 channels operated by provincial and city stations defying the ban on commercials for weight loss, breast enlargement and other health and beauty products and treatments.

However, warnings from the SARFT succeeded in forcing compliance from only 147 of them.

The ban was announced in July and became effective on August 1.

It was introduced by the SARFT and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) because of fears that such ads violated consumers' rights and posed health risks.

The SARFT followed up with a survey early this month of 1,117 channels operated independently by provincial and city-level TV stations.

"The SARFT sent out 406 warnings and 13 notices to those who violated the bans in the past month -- and they had some effect," an official with the SARFT said.

If a television or radio receives three notices within 60 days, it is forbidden to screen advertisements and the officials in charge face penalties.

Under the new regulations, TV shopping programs must clearly state the manufacturing and distributing companies of medical products, and the government approval given to the products.

Experts said TV stations were reluctant to comply with the ban because advertising accounted for most of their revenues and health and beauty ads had proved highly profitable.

Many newspapers, magazines and websites have been competing for the advertising since the ban took effect.

Qu Jianmin, director of the SAIC advertising monitoring and administration, said the SAIC was closely watching for illegal ads and information in publications and websites. It was also considering regulations for the print and on-line media, in order to "create a fair market environment."

(Xinhua News Agency August 31, 2006)

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