No word from the sponsors for China's drama watchers

Mon Nov 28, 2011 9:45am EST
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BEIJING (Reuters) - In a dose of reality television, Beijing-style, China has ordered a ban on advertisements during broadcasts of TV dramas in a bid "to unify thinking," the country's top broadcasting regulator said on Monday.

The government's latest move to clean up China's airwaves was announced by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and will come into effect from January.

It followed the five-day annual meeting of the Communist Party Central Committee in October, which focused on enlivening the nation's "cultural system" as its state-run publishers, performance troupes and broadcasters struggle to balance the pull of the marketplace with the dictates of propaganda.

"Radio and television are important mouthpieces of the (Communist) Party and the people and are important battlefields in publicity and ideology," SARFT said on its website.

"They bear important responsibilities in the public cultural service system, they must fully play up their advantages and earnestly perform their duties," the agency said.

Growth in advertising sales by China's state television has softened to the slowest in at least six years, a sign of corporate caution and an indication that the pace of economic growth could slow further, too.

Still, CCTV's total ad sales for 2012 rose by 12.5 percent to a record high of 14.26 billion yuan ($2.245 billion) in an auction held in early November.

Ad spending in China has increasingly flowed to more daring provincial satellite channels, whose dating shows and talent contests are wildly popular.

In September, China ordered a popular television talent show off the air for a year after it exceeded broadcasting time limits, replacing it with programmes that "promote moral ethics" such as public safety and housework tips.