China banning commercials during dramas in 2012


The free-market model of ad-supported television has made major strides in China over the last decade, however, next year, there is going to be a bit of a pullback. China will ban television stations from airing commercials during broadcasts of TV dramas starting 1/1, as the government tightens control over media and the Internet.

Television stations could face a reprimand or the loss of their commercial broadcast rights if they air any ads during the 45-minute episodes, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said in a statement on its website.

The rule is meant to “lift the standards of public cultural services” and “protect the people’s basic cultural rights,” the regulator said. It also designated January as a “special month” for enforcing the ban throughout the country.

China’s Communist Party has been pushing to assert more influence over Chinese culture and society, including in television and the arts, reported a Bloomberg story. After a meeting in October, the Party’s Central Committee released a notice vowing to “promote more fine literary and artistic works” in fields such as television, movies and photography.

We assume commercial interruptions may be taking away from the quality of the programming, in the government’s opinion.

The media regulator also unveiled new limits on the number of “overly entertaining and vulgar” reality and talent shows aired on television. The notice also said the government would strengthen management of online social media sites where users have criticized the government and exposed corruption.

The media regulator had earlier ordered Hunan Television to suspend broadcasts of its “Super Girl” singing competition, similar to “American Idol,” for infractions including the exceeding of limits on the length of the shows, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

RBR-TVBR observation: With open markets, wealth and Western influences moving into China at a record pace, the media is following right along. Many US media companies like Disney and Turner have set up shop in China. The government there is likely very closely studying the influences that more open and media and entertainment are having on its citizens. Nevertheless, to start pointing fingers at ads in TV dramas is a bit odd.