Thu, Feb 07, 2013 - Page 6 News List

Beijing bans ads for pricey gifts in anti-corruption drive

Reuters, BEIJING

Chinese radio and television stations are to ban advertisements for expensive gifts such as watches, rare stamps and gold coins, Xinhua news agency said yesterday, as part of a push by the government to crack down on extravagance and waste.

Such advertisements had “publicised incorrect values and helped create a bad social ethos,” the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said in a release, Xinhua said.

The ban comes after repeated calls from Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) for a renewed fight against graft. However, it could take a toll on luxury product manufacturers who advertise on Chinese television and radio.

Makers of expensive liquors, including Kweichow Moutai Co and Wuliangye Yibin Co, routinely dominate the annual ad auction at China Central Television.

Producers of the fiery liquor known as baijiu (白酒), which once flowed freely at government banquets, were hit in December last year by an official ban on alcohol at military events. High-end bottles of the grain-based liquor can cost thousands of yuan.

The crackdown on corruption has also hit jewelry retailers hard, especially after high-end watches became a symbol of graft.

Hengdeli and Emperor Watch and Jewellery are the among the biggest watch retailers in China and both of their shares were down yesterday. Hengdeli had lost 2.2 percent by the early afternoon in Hong Kong while Emperor was down 1 percent.

“Watches and liquor have been influenced by government policies and have been pulled down by a change in leadership,” Rupert Hoogewerf, the founder of the Hurun Report, told reporters last month.

Xi said in a speech on Jan. 22 that targeting the “flies,” or lowly people involved in corruption, was just as important as going after the “tigers,” or top officials.

“As important cultural and ideological strongholds, radio and television channels should fully exert their role of educating the people,” a spokesman for SARFT told Xinhua.

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