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Media told to drop ads for gifts

By Xu Wei  (China Daily)

10:08, February 07, 2013

Radio and television stations have been ordered to pull any advertisements that promote giving ostentatious gifts, as part of efforts to cut down on extravagance and waste.

Advertisements for goods such as watches, rare stamps and gold coins that suggest they are "must have items for superiors" are now banned, China's media watchdog said.

According to a statement on Wednesday from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, such ads "promote incorrect values and helped create a bad social ethos".

The regulation followed Party chief Xi Jinping's call last month for Party bodies, government departments, military units and State-owned enterprises to end extravagance and the waste of resources.

Radio and TV stations should regard the banning of advertisements that promote gift-giving as a way to respond to the calls from the top leadership, an unnamed spokesman from the administration said in the statement.

The ban was announced four days ahead of Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, the most important festival to Chinese and a typical occasion for gift-giving.

Ads with implications of gift-giving flooded TV screens and radio channels because they appeal to the needs of consumers, said Zhao Shuguang, an associate professor of media and advertising studies at Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication.

"In a sense, these advertisements promote gift-giving and banning them would help reduce the phenomenon to some extent," he said.

Zhang Zhian, deputy dean of the School of Communication and Design at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said: "Chinese society is one that values connections and gift-giving is a must during festival periods.

"Choosing gifts is always a headache for me when I return to my hometown for Spring Festival. The easiest solution is to choose the gift they all know, which is often one that is heavily advertised," he said.

"Although many people would regard the content of ads that promote products as a proper gift as silly, they reinforce the notion of gift-giving," he said.

Zhang said it remains to seen how long the ban will last and the measure will only be effective if it is long-term.

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