Officers from the radio management bureau of Xuchang, Central China's Henan Province search for illegal radio broadcasts on January 13. Photo: IC
In one week, your wife will be thrilled seeing your stamina in bed; in two months, I promise that your penis's size will exceed the average for Asian of 15 centimeters," such advertisements for erectile dysfunction (ED) pills are transmitted through pirate radios transmitted to hundreds of thousands of listeners in the Chinese capital every day.
According to an investigation by The Beijing News, such pirate radio stations spend upwards of 4,000 yuan ($608) buying broadcast equipment and set it up on the top floor of apartment blocks to promote ED pills that are not available on the legitimate market.
Illegal radio stations broadcasting ED drugs ads also have been found in Southwest China's Chongqing and Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, and the authorities have launched several crackdown campaigns.
Beijing radio management authorities have detained seven suspects and seized over 50 sets of pirate radio equipment since March 2014. Counterfeit pills
The Global Times reporter found three pirate stations while surfing the radio waves near the East Fifth Ring Road in Chaoyang district this week.
One station at 102.7 FM, a man calling himself "Teacher Meng" answered phone calls from people claiming to be patients, and no matter what their diseases were, Meng assured them they would be healed after taking his pills for two months.
Meng charged 840 yuan for two months of treatment, and reminded listeners that it was their last chance to buy the panacea at a "cheap" price as it would go up to 3,440 yuan the next day. However, he used the same sales pitch the next day.
Listeners could tune into 11 such stations while outside Tiantongyuan Subway Station, The Beijing News reported.
These ED pill-selling stations shared many common features: They repeatedly promote sexual medicine through phone-ins, and never mention the name of the station or the program's hotline number.
The Global Times reporter called the sales number Teacher Meng mentioned in his program, the man that answered said their medicines cannot be found on the open market, and patients have to make an order through the phone and then pay for the pills on delivery.
Four different kinds of medicines bought by The Beijing News reporter had no name or shipper's address on the receipt, simply the sales hotline number.
Several pharmaceutical agents said legal medicines are sold at drug stores and hospitals, and "the medicine they sold could be self-produced or counterfeit."
Apart from misleading audiences, pirate stations also obstruct civil and military aviation communications as well as legal radio stations.
An anonymous employee from the Beijing radio administration told The Beijing News that the frequencies used for public communication are close to those used for civil aviation, and pirate radios frequently obstruct airlines' communication. In 2015, the radio administration received over 100 complaints from airlines regarding this issue.
The authorities seized three pirate radio transmitters which disturbed the military parade in September 2015, reports said.
The radiation produced by stations may also affect the health of nearby residents, and pirate stations also pose a threat to the safety of buildings, as their equipment usually has no lightning protection system. Difficult to nab
Beijing's law enforcement officers busted a gang operating a pirate station in June 2015. The gang had 10 members engaging in finance, advertisement and remote control of the radio.
The gang also had members to record their "programs" advertising medicine.
Law enforcement officers said that the radio was installed in a room on the top floor of a building in downtown Beijing and nearby Hebei Province. Their signal covered 20 to 30 kilometers.
The gang made a small fortune. A contract they signed with a private hospital showed that the gang earned 800,000 yuan in advertisement fees over three months. Authorities detained five of the members, and seized 14 sets of illegal radio equipment.
Law enforcement officers said that transmitting equipment can easily be bought online.
An search for such equipment on taobao.com yielded 622 shops.
Global Times - The Beijing NewsNewspaper headline: Hijacking the airwaves