Shanghai Will Issue New Regs Governing Outdoor Advertising

As Part of its 2010 World Expo Plans, the City Has Already Pulled Down Over 5,000 Roadside Billboards

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Bus shelter advertising in Shsanghai could be reduced by two-thirds
Bus shelter advertising in Shsanghai could be reduced by two-thirds Credit: Imaginechina AP

SHANGHAI ( -- Shanghai's municipal government is culling the amount of outdoor advertising as part of the city's preparations for the 2010 World Expo.

The government will introduce revised regulations controlling outdoor ads in late December or early next year.

Local media reports in China say officials from the Shanghai Greenery Bureau and Shanghai City Appearance and Environmental Sanitation Administration are seeking advice from the city's residents, urban design experts and advertising companies.

But media buyers say city officials haven't consulted the China Outdoor Association or China's Association of Accredited Advertising Agents, known as the 4As.

"We have not been involved much so far," said Jim Liu, managing partner, China, at Group M's outdoor-media division, Kinetic, in Shanghai.

The government's efforts to improve Shanghai's image began late last year, with the release of a list of billboards that needed to be removed.

For example, the government decided ads would no longer be allowed on top of buildings taller than 60 meters. The city has taken down over 5,000 outdoor ads from Shanghai roads and over 1,000 more from building roofs and walls.

The industry welcomes new regulations, said Mr. Liu. "This is a kind of revolution for Shanghai. The key points were not defined well before. Now the rules will be more concrete and finalized for media companies, so we think it's a good sign. We prefer to have a very clear guideline."

He does not expect the new rules to hinder operations for any of the major multinational media agencies operating in China. "We only work with official outdoor media venders already, so this will not create a big impact for us."

But the crackdown on outdoor advertising could result in signification price inflation for the legal sites that remain, particularly for bus shelters. Under the new rules, bus shelter advertising space could be reduced by two-thirds so the city can have additional space for bus-related information, according to Greg Paull, a partner at R3, a marketing consultancy based in Beijing.

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