STEAMY, horrific or down right rude advertisements for feature films could be censored if the public responds strongly enough to a survey by the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA). The public is being asked for the first time whether they want TELA's power of film censorship to extend into advertising outside the cinema or in newspapers. TELA is concerned that while they can control viewings of feature films in the territory under the three-tier classification system, advertising of adult-only films is not censured. The move comes after public complaints about poster advertising, particularly the vivid sexual images advertising the Cantonese film Raped By The Angel. Any pre-censorship would require a change in the law. TELA commissioner Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said: ''The Film Censorship Ordinance does not provide us with the legal powers of censorship [for poster advertising] and any introduction would require legislation.'' She said the public would be further consulted if initial indications suggested the pre-censorship would be beneficial. ''We take the view that [pre-censorship] would be a contentious issue and we would not want to go ahead with it without public support.'' What form any pre-censorship would take would depend of the results of the survey, she said. A balanced cross-section of the public, from 13 to 60-years-old, will be asked their views of film advertising during a survey being carried out by TELA on film classification standards. The authority wants to know if public opinion is behind the current three-tier system or whether there is room for change. The sample will be shown extracts of films from all three categories, suitable for everyone, not suitable for children and strictly adults-only. They will be treated to scenes such as the slicing off of male genitals, heads explosions, and grotesque stabbing frenzies and asked whether they believe them suitable for children. Under 18-year-olds will not be shown film clips which currently have a category III rating, suitable for adults only. Foul language, simulated sex, triad depiction and horror will also be shown and views collected by way of a questionnaire. The survey will cost $255,000 and will take four months to complete. Mrs Lau said it was being conducted to gauge any changing attitudes towards standards in the community. Under the Film Censorship Ordinance, children are banned from watching adult-only films, films which are deemed too pornographic or very violent. From its enactment in 1988 to September this year, about 1,139 films have been screened, 144 warning letters sent by TELA to cinema operators violating the under-18 rule and 25 prosecutions of cinemas leading to 18 convictions. Mrs Lau said despite the three-tier classification, theatres, parents and schools must all do their bit to prevent children watching adult films. Last month cinemas installed cardboard inspectors to try to deter children from claiming to be over 18. Hong Kong Theatres' Association chairman Joey Kong Cho-yee said poster advertising was often a way to persuade children from watching adult films. ''When they see in the newspaper a picture which shows the film is adult they often decide to stay away,'' he said. He said it was unfair for cinemas to be prosecuted when it was often impossible to tell a person's age.