Viewers complain ads last almost as long as programs

Updated: 2012-01-04 10:25

By Li Yao (China Daily)

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BEIJING - TV networks are trying to adapt to a new advertising ban that came into effect on Sunday.

The new rule, which demands TV stations stop screening ads in the middle of drama episodes running for 45 minutes or more, was announced by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, China's top broadcasting watchdog, on Nov 28. Audiences complained that too many ads made it seem that the TV shows were interrupting the ads.

"It came as a shock when I realized the ads were gone," said Wu Ting, a junior student studying public management at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

But while viewers can now enjoy their favorite shows without any ads, some viewers have started complaining that the ad breaks between shows are too long as many TV stations now run the ads in a block between programs.

"I had enough time to use a facial mask during the ads between two shows," said Yang Chunli, 27, an interpreter in Shanghai.

"The time for ads before and after a program is as long as the show itself," Liu Chun, vice-president of, one of China's largest Internet portals, wrote on his Sina micro blog on Sunday evening, saying he watched 20 minutes of ads before a drama episode on Zhejiang TV.

Yu Guoming, a professor at the School of Journalism at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said the ban will be adhered to, but the regulation came at a difficult time for TV networks.

"The ban came out rather late last year, at a time when many TV channels had already signed deals with advertisers. Later the TV stations will have to renegotiate the contracts and bear the costs because of the ban," Yu said.

Broadcasters are trying a number of ways to compensate for any potential loss in advertising revenue. Hunan TV has sponsorship footnotes on screen when running dramas, and is including advertisers' names in the message reminding viewers to stay tuned for the next episode.

Dragon TV in Shanghai, one of the most profitable TV networks in China, will broadcast a new soap opera on Tuesday and after each episode there will be a sponsored lucky draw.

However, Gong Libo, director of Jiangsu TV's marketing center, said on his Sina micro blog that his company will carry out the ban and cancel all ads during dramas, without raising advertising rates or moving the ads between episodes.

Cinemas may face a similar ban on running ads before the start of a film, as a draft law on movie promotion started soliciting public opinions on Dec 15.

Cinemas violating the ban may be fined up to 200, 000 yuan ($32,000), and have their licenses revoked, according to the draft.