China limits ads in TV dramas in a bid for viewers

November 29, 2011 - 8:20 AM

BEIJING (AP) — China's government is prohibiting television stations from placing advertisements in the middle of TV dramas in a move meant to attract viewers and boost program quality.

The ban, which was published Monday and takes effect Jan. 1, said no ads may appear in any drama series, whose episodes typically run 45 minutes.

The order is the latest in a series since the ruling Communist Party last month endorsed a program to raise the entertainment and ideological value of cultural offerings to better hold the attention of Chinese increasingly turning to the Internet for alternate viewpoints.

TV is the most popular, lucrative and, hence, tightly controlled of all media in China. The ad ban follows a directive last month to limit reality shows and other entertainment fare.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said eliminating ads from programs will "improve the level of public cultural services, protect people's basic cultural rights ... and leave the people satisfied."

While ad revenue is expected to shrink, broadcasting executives and analysts quoted by state media said the ban will force TV stations to air higher quality series to keep viewers from switching stations.