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CCTV host says sorry for fake ads
By Qin Zhongwei (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-18 07:53

Zhao Zhongxiang, the 67-year-old veteran host for CCTV, China's national TV station, has apologized for starring in fake medicine commercials.

Wang Bo, deputy secretary general of Professional Committee of Media Shopping (PCMS), said Zhao apologized in a meeting between the two parties on Monday, less than one week being exposed by the association.

Zhao told PCMS that he wanted TV stations nationwide to stop broadcasting the commercials, Wang said.

"Zhao said sorry for his appearance in the advertisements, and said he would like to compensate consumers if the advertisements did any damage," Wang said.

Last Wednesday, PCMS, affiliated to the China General Chamber of Commerce, named 20 commercials that it considered to be either in a violation of the law or an exaggeration of the product's qualities. Zhao starred in two commercials that promoted medicines curing coughs and heart diseases.

As part of his immediate response last Thursday, Zhao threatened legal action against PCMS.

At that time, Wang Fu, Zhao's lawyer, questioned whether PCMS had the authority to judge his client's behavior and said that taking the matter to court would protect the star's reputation.

However, Wang Bo said Zhao withdrew the threat during the meeting on Monday.

"It is not our original intention to single out any celebrity. We just want the TV shopping industry to lead consumers the right way and not to damage their rights," Wang Bo said.

It follows criticism of cross talk star Hou Yaohua, who starred in 10 fake or unregistered medicine commercials. Hou wrote on his blog on Nov 6 that he was sorry for his actions.

The Beijing consumer association released an open letter on Monday that asked celebrities to be cautious in choosing to promote products they are not familiar with. It was the fourth time the association issued the letter.

"Celebrities should raise their awareness and responsibilities, and they should not represent products if they haven't used them," the letter read.

Qiu Baochang, director of consumer rights protection council of Beijing Lawyer Association, said: "The law will be more effective than supervision from associations or any self discipline of the celebrities themselves."

(China Daily 11/18/2009 page26)