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MTV Central clamps down on ringtone ads

Crazy Frog and friends banned from prime time slots

MTV Networks subsidiary MTV Central, channel provider for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, has announced a ban on ringtone advertisements during prime time viewing hours.

From October 1, no direct response ads will be shown between 4pm and midnight. The ban will also come into effect on sister channel VIVA, which broadcasts only in Germany, in March 2006.

All most all of the direct response adverts shown on MTV Central and VIVA are for mobile phone ringtones and encourage consumers to purchase products via text message. Many consumers have complained that some ads are misleading as they do not make it clear that an ongoing subscription fee is payable, or that the products advertised only work on certain handsets.

An MTV spokesperson said the channel was imposing the ban as part of a "new advertising strategy" that aims "to reach older target groups and raise the interest of traditional advertisers."

However, many critics say it is a response to a consumer backlash against ringtone adverts starring characters such as the Crazy Frog, who now has his own record deal and a videogame due this Christmas.

A spokesperson for Jamba, the creator of the Crazy Frog, said the company would continue to do business with MTV.

"We are optimistic that we can find a common solution that meets everyone's needs," she added.

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