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In brief: prohibited and controlled advertising in Hong Kong

Prohibited and managed promoting

Prohibited services and products

What services and products might not be marketed?

Beneath the Tv Promoting Code and the Radio Promoting Code (the Broadcast Codes), ads for any of the next usually are not acceptable whether or not straight or not directly for inclusion in a licensed broadcasting service:

  • firearms and related tools;
  • fortune tellers, however not precluding ads or publications on topics of common curiosity comparable to horoscopes, astrology, Chinese language almanacs or feng shui;
  • undertakers or others related to dying or burial besides dignified and restrained presentation of ads for columbaria offered that every one specific references to dying and technical elements of related providers and morbid particulars are prevented;
  • unlicensed employment providers, registries or bureaus;
  • organisations, corporations or individuals looking for to promote for the aim of giving betting suggestions;
  • betting, until authorised by or below the Betting Obligation Ordinance and for horse racing or soccer betting publications and associated issues. No ads for this stuff ought to be proven inside or in proximity to youngsters’s programmes, and any commercial for lotteries are topic to particular restrictions, that are that they:
    • can’t be proven between 4 pm and eight.30 pm;
    • should goal adult-only audiences, with out depicting any youngster or adolescent participation;
    • should not characteristic any character who has explicit attraction to youngsters or adolescents;
    • should not comprise any assertion or reward for these collaborating in lotteries or soccer or horse race betting;
    • should not denigrate those that abstain from such;
    • should not mislead or exaggerate the probability of profitable;
    • can’t be tutorial in nature or unduly exhort the general public to wager; and
    • can’t characteristic extreme or reckless betting or current lotteries, soccer or horse race betting as a substitute for work or as a manner out of economic issue;
  • evening golf equipment, dance halls, therapeutic massage palaces, sauna homes and such like;
  • escort providers and relationship businesses concentrating on younger individuals below the age of 18; and
  • pay-per-call info.


Additional, any commercial for an appropriate services or products could also be unacceptable if, within the opinion, and on the discretion of, the Communications Authority, a major impact of the commercial would publicise not directly an unacceptable services or products.

The Broadcast Codes comprise additional detailed provisions on the promoting of particular services or products.

Prohibited promoting strategies

Are sure promoting strategies prohibited?

Normal controls on internet-based approaches to customers are enacted and offered for below the Unsolicited Digital Messages Ordinance (UEMO), Hong Kong’s anti-spam legislation, which prohibits skilled spamming actions comparable to the usage of unscrupulous practices to achieve out to extra recipients, and fraudulent actions in relation to sending business digital messages. Particularly, the UEMO units out the foundations for sending business digital messages (eg, the requirement to supply full sender info and, notably, to incorporate and to honour an unsubscribe facility and requests in addition to offering for the do-not-call registers that should all be saved for at the least three years after receipt). The Unsolicited Digital Messages Regulation (UEMR) prescribes, below the UEMO, detailed necessities referring to the accuracy of ‘sender info’, an ‘unsubscribe facility’ and an ‘unsubscribe facility assertion’ to be included in digital messages.

Along with the UEMO and the UEMR, there’s a Code of Follow (COP). The COP goals to supply steering in respect of the appliance or operation of the provisions of the UEMO.

Nonetheless, the UEMO regulates the sending of ‘business digital messages’ with a ‘Hong Kong hyperlink’. Typically, a business email correspondence has a Hong Kong hyperlink if the message:

  • originates in Hong Kong;
  • is distributed to Hong Kong; or
  • is distributed to a Hong Kong phone or fax quantity.


Nonetheless, in a cautious legislative avoidance of controls upon direct advertising and marketing to customers, the next messages are exempt from software of the UEMO:

  • person-to-person telemarketing calls;
  • sound broadcasting or tv programme providers; and
  • partial business email correspondence exemption exists if an email correspondence is distributed in response to a request by the recipient and the first goal is said to a business transaction with which the recipient is at the moment concerned.


The Judicial Proceedings (Regulation of Experiences) Ordinance supplies that, with respect to the privateness and confidentiality help afforded by legislation, it’s illegal to print or publish, or trigger or procure to be printed or revealed, in relation to any judicial proceedings for dissolution of marriage, nullity of marriage or judicial separation of events, any particulars apart from:

  • the names, addresses and occupations of the events and witnesses;
  • a concise assertion of the costs, defences and counter-charges;
  • any submissions on a degree of legislation and the choice of the courtroom thereon; and
  • the summing up of the choose and the discovering of the jury and observations made by the choose in giving judgment.


Any individual contravening this restriction shall be responsible of an offence and liable to fantastic and imprisonment offered that the sanctions are expressly said to use to any proprietor, editor, grasp printer or writer, and in any other case the sanctions or restriction are expressly said to not apply to judicial proceedings or communication to the individuals involved within the proceedings or by the use of legislation studies.


Subliminal promoting

The Tv Code particularly prohibits subliminal promoting by a licensee on its tv channels.

The Broadcast Codes require promoting to be said as such and clearly distinguished from programme materials.

On this connection, ‘commercial’ or ‘promoting materials’ means any materials that’s successfully designed to advance the sale of any explicit services or products or to advertise the pursuits of any organisation, business concern or particular person in no matter manner and included in the midst of a programme to any services or products. All such purely business promotional materials have to be clearly distinguished from the precise programme materials and there are rules limiting the time span of ads in relation to precise programme materials.

All sponsored programmes have to be clearly recognized as such and sponsor identifications have to be distinguishable from ads and should not comprise superlative claims, value info or direct exhortations to the general public. Within the Tv Broadcast Code, it’s offered that viewers shouldn’t be topic to any hidden editorial affect.

A 2017 survey was performed for the Communications Authority on the regulation of oblique promoting outlined because the mingling of programme and promoting materials or of the embedding of promoting materials inside programme content material, whether or not inadvertently or by design, as distinguished from product or sponsorship outlined because the inclusion of services or products inside a programme in return for fee or different priceless consideration.

This survey usually established that almost all of tv viewers thought-about that the present restrictions on the combination promoting time per clock hour had been crucial. It was additional thought-about by roughly half of tv viewers surveyed that related restrictions on the employment of product placement ought to, in precept, obtain the purpose of avoiding affecting the integrity and attractiveness of programmes.

Safety of minors

What are the foundations for promoting as regards minors and their safety?

The Broadcast Codes prohibit a variety of ads and participation in ads and the exhibiting of ads with or to youngsters and prohibit transmission of those ads at instances inside or in shut proximity to programmes concentrating on youngsters.

Credit score and monetary merchandise

Are there particular guidelines for promoting credit score or monetary merchandise?

The Broadcast Codes require licensees to make sure that ads adjust to all related authorized and regulatory necessities in respect of a variety of ordinances and codes for funding merchandise. It’s the accountability of customers of those codes to establish the relevant and up-to-date authorized and regulatory necessities.

Additional provisions require compliance in respect of:

  • deposit and financial savings services;
  • mortgage lending and credit score;
  • recommendation concerning the inventory market or funding merchandise and controlled actions below the Securities and Futures Ordinance;
  • proceeds of insurance coverage insurance policies; and
  • any sale or letting commercial for actual property property, until the advertiser is ready to substantiate that any such proposal doesn’t represent any breach of the situations referring to such sale or letting imposed within the authorities’s lease situations affecting the land on which any accomplished constructing on such actual property property stands.

Therapeutic items and providers

Are there particular guidelines for claims made about therapeutic items and providers?

As per the Public Well being and Municipal Companies Ordinance, no individual shall promote, provide, expose or promote on the market any drug injuriously affected in its high quality, structure or efficiency by the use of including a substance to, or abstracting any constituent from, a drug in order to have an effect on injuriously the standard, structure or efficiency of the drug.

The Broadcast Codes require that claims referring to diet or dietary results of services or products ought to be dealt with with care and claims of results or remedy for situations of well being for which certified medical consideration or recommendation ought to fairly be sought usually are not acceptable.

As well as, all the time topic to required compliance with the provisions of the Undesirable Medical Commercials Ordinance, there are particular provisions referring to the claimed dietary worth of meals and dietary dietary supplements, and claims associated to weight reduction, fats discount or weight problems.

Meals and well being

Are there particular guidelines for claims about foodstuffs concerning well being and diet, and weight management?

No individual shall promote, provide or expose on the market, or promote below the designation of milk, any liquid within the making of which any separated milk, or any dried or condensed milk has been used.

If any individual publishes or is celebration to the publication of an commercial falsely describing any meals or drug or is prone to mislead as to the character, substance or high quality of any meals or drug, she or he shall be responsible of an offence and be liable on conviction to a fantastic and imprisonment.

In any proceedings in respect of such commercial in opposition to the producer, producer or importer of the meals or drug, the burden of proof that she or he didn’t publish and was not a celebration to the publication of the commercial is on the defendant, however in any proceedings for such an offence, it shall be a defence for the defendant to show both that she or he didn’t know, and couldn’t with cheap diligence have ascertained, that the commercial was a false description or prone to mislead, or that, being an individual whose enterprise it’s to publish or organize for the publication of ads, she or he acquired the commercial within the unusual course of enterprise.


What are the foundations for promoting alcoholic drinks?

The Broadcast Codes require that the promoting of alcoholic drinks ought to goal solely an grownup viewers and no youngsters or adolescents shall be allowed to take part within the presentation of such ads. Such ads shouldn’t be proven in proximity to youngsters’s programmes or programmes that, within the opinion of the Communications Authority, goal younger individuals below the age of 18.

Commercials that try and painting consuming as a fascinating new expertise or that painting consuming as indispensable to reputation and success usually are not permitted, and the presentation of alcoholic liquor as prizes or presents in isolation for broadcast content material shouldn’t be permitted.

There are additional detailed prohibitions upon the impact or communicated impact of alcoholic beverage ads that, usually talking, shouldn’t encourage excessive consuming, misuse or abuse of alcohol, shouldn’t painting alcohol as a prerequisite to leisure, or encourage or problem non-drinkers or younger individuals below the age of 18 to drink.


What are the foundations for promoting tobacco merchandise?

No individual shall print, publish or trigger to be revealed a tobacco commercial in any native newspaper or any printed doc printed, revealed or distributed in Hong Kong, nor show or trigger to be displayed or revealed or distributed for goal of show, or broadcast by radio waves or visible photographs or sound or exhibit by movie or place on the web any tobacco commercial. ‘Tobacco commercial’ is outlined as any commercial containing any specific or implied inducement, suggestion or request to buy or smoke cigarettes or promote or encourage the usage of tobacco merchandise and any one that contravenes these provisions commits an offence and is liable on abstract conviction to a fantastic.

Nonetheless, an commercial is to not be considered a tobacco commercial if its goal is to discourage smoking.

The Broadcast Codes require that every one licensees adjust to all related provisions referring to tobacco ads below the Smoking (Public Well being) Ordinance and prohibit the presentation of tobacco merchandise as prizes or presents for broadcast content material. Any commercial for tobacco-related merchandise, comparable to cigarette holders, tobacco filters and different smoking equipment, shall goal solely grownup audiences, not permit participation by youngsters or adolescents, and never present ads in proximity to youngsters’s programmes or programmes that concentrate on younger individuals below the age of 18.

On 13 February 2019, the Hong Kong authorities launched to the Legislative Council a invoice to ban any Hong Kong inner market dealing comparable to promoting, offering or promoting any various smoking merchandise, comparable to e-cigarettes.


Are there particular guidelines for promoting playing?

There are two primary items of gambling-related laws in place in Hong Kong, that are the Playing Ordinance (Cap. 148) and the Betting Obligation Ordinance (Cap. 108).

The federal government has additionally issued Codes of Follow for the Conduct of Soccer Betting and Lotteries to offer steering on how the licensing situations for soccer betting and lotteries could also be complied with. Beneath these Codes, licensees shouldn’t promote the soccer betting and lotteries in, or in shut proximity to, academic and coaching establishments for juveniles, and place ads or promotional supplies on billboards or different outside shows which can be straight adjoining to such establishments. Moreover, below the Playing Ordinance, ads to advertise or facilitate bookmaking and betting-related providers are prohibited and it’s unlawful for any individual to promote offshore bookmaking in Hong Kong.


What are the foundations for promoting lotteries?

The Secretary for House Affairs has issued a Code of Follow for the conduct of soccer betting and lotteries, which provides steering on how the licensing situations for soccer betting and lotteries could also be complied with. Licensees shouldn’t promote the conduct of soccer betting and lotteries in, or in shut proximity to, academic and coaching establishments for juveniles nor place ads or promotional supplies on billboards or different outside shows which can be straight adjoining to such establishments. A juvenile is an individual below 18 years of age.

Beneath the Playing Ordinance, by way of the holding or organisation of a lottery that’s outlined as a sweepstake involving a component of probability for selecting winners versus the train of talent for selecting winners, there are two permissible lottery or sweepstake features, however in any other case all playing is prohibited.

There are two permissible exceptions to the illegality of lotteries, that are:

  • a licensed lottery registered with the Secretary for House Affairs and organised for strictly charitable functions below a licence issued below strict situations; and
  • a licence issued by the Licensing Workplace for the holding of a sweepstake below strictly utilized sweepstake guidelines authorized upfront by the Licensing Workplace, which supplies for an exception for a recreation of probability however prohibits a cash prize.

Promotional contests

What are the necessities for promoting and providing promotional contests?

Within the absence of any ingredient of playing in a promotional contest, there aren’t any controls exterior these relevant to the related promoting company below the Code of Follow.

Nonetheless, if a promotional contest is promoted as a enterprise operation and includes any ingredient of probability within the choice of winners, then it’s unlawful playing below the Playing Ordinance, with one exception. The exception is that the legislation recognises the promotion, for functions of commerce, of video games of probability and as a particular exception to the prohibition as unlawful playing of a commerce promotion competitors, the competitors might be organised, however solely below the phrases and situations of an advance licence utilized for by the abroad or Hong Kong home organiser upfront of the promotional contest. Particular situations apply.

Oblique advertising and marketing

Are there any restrictions on oblique advertising and marketing, comparable to business sponsorship of programmes and product placement?

The Broadcast Codes comprise particular restrictions.

Different promoting guidelines

Briefly give particulars of some other notable particular promoting regimes.

The Broadcast Codes prohibit the insertion of ads in the midst of a non secular service or different devotional programme or faculty programmes inside academic tv time slots provided by the federal government for home free tv programme providers.

The Broadcast Codes impose a broadcast ban on political promoting and, usually, no election ads ought to seem in tv or radio broadcasts.

Feedback on, or references to, candidates in any broadcast programme ought to be handled pretty and equally and there’s a danger that promotional or prejudicial feedback on a politician may be handled as an election commercial, which can stimulate the Electoral Affairs Fee to refer the identical to the Communications Authority for applicable motion. The 2012 Pointers to observe Codes of Follow when requiring information and present affairs programmes to be truthful, goal and neutral are expressly said as not looking for to shackle the free expression of editorial remark. There’s freedom for electoral candidates to promote freely in printed media, topic, all the time, to a transparent assertion that the commercial involved is an election commercial.

The Public Well being and Municipal Companies Ordinance supplies regulatory management of ads below rules which may be made by the Public Well being and Municipal Companies Authority to limit, regulate or prohibit the exhibition of ads, declarations or indicators of any form in anyway in anywhere or in such method or by such means because the authority might deem to have an effect on injuriously or disfigure any pure magnificence facilities or historic place.

Additional, below this Ordinance, no invoice or poster shall be displayed or affixed on any non-public land besides with the written permission of the proprietor or occupier thereof and the place any such permission is given, any invoice or poster show shall be maintained in a clear and tidy situation to the cheap satisfaction of the Authority; the breach of this requirement ends in the contravening individual being liable to prosecution for the offence dedicated.

The Broadcast Codes require that any commercial for a movie that’s categorised below the Movie Censorship Ordinance supposed for public exhibition in Hong Kong should show the suitable image relevant to that exact movie and for any movie apart from the overall class I to hold legible visible or aural advisories (or each) to the impact that they aren’t appropriate for explicit teams of individuals or authorized for exhibition to individuals aged 18 or above.

The Private Knowledge Privateness Ordinance accommodates strict regulation of direct advertising and marketing by mail, fax, email correspondence or different technique of communication, or making phone calls to particular individuals with out the written consent of the advertising and marketing goal individual.

The Unsolicited Digital Messages Ordinance prohibits the sending of a business email correspondence with a Hong Kong hyperlink with out the consent of the goal recipient.

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