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TV Commercial Triggers Probe
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A Chinese television commercial that features businessmen boasting of how they win over female clients with a potency drug has come under attack on Internet forums, prompting state TV authorities to launch an investigation.

The commercial has been played on provincial satellite TV stations including Shaanxi TV, Shanxi TV and Hebei TV.

"The ad has crossed the bottom line of morality," said one Internet posting. "It is nothing but shameless."

"I can't believe TV stations would broadcast an ad like that," said another.

The complaints center for television commercials of the State Administration of Film, Radio and Television (SARFT) said it had received many complaints about the commercial, the Beijing Times reported.

The center would report it to a higher administrative department in SARFT for investigation and possible disciplanary action, the report said.

The commercial for the drug, named Shengdi Meilijian -- Holy King Charm Strong, if translated literally -- had usually aired at cheaper time advertising slots around midnight, said Zhou, a commercial agent for several satellite TV stations.

"On Shaanxi satellite TV for example, the price for midnight commercials is 550 yuan (US$69) per minute," he was quoted as saying.

Healthcare products commercials were broadcast on provincial satellite television with the approval of the local food and drug bureaus and broadcasting authorities, Zhou said.

"If the content was found to be vulgar, it would be impossible to show on TV," he said. "Although local authorities have different standards."

The drug claims to be a US-made product that improves kidney function and boosts potency for men, as part of its name, Meilijian, is a homophonic Chinese play on the term for the United States.

Salesman at Beijing Biotech Company, the agent for the product, said the "commercial was made to leave a deep impression" after learning of the complaints, the newspaper reported.

Last month, the SARFT announced a ban on television and radio advertisements for weight loss, breast enlargement and other beauty products and treatments amid fears that such commercials violated consumer rights and endangered health.

In May, the authorities banned Ao Mei Ding, a breast-enlarging liquid made by Fu Hua Pharmaceutical Co. and injected into more than 300,000 women. It caused some women so much pain that they had to have their breasts removed.

(Xinhua News Agency August 29, 2006)

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