SARFT orders TV stations to be less excessively entertaining

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So there’ll be less of this, then? Sigh.

By Horace Lu 

A new “Entertainment Restriction” (限娱令) has been issued by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) to impose further restrictions on entertainment shows of provincial TV stations. Dating and other 6 kinds of programs will be restricted, and only 2 entertainment shows will be allowed to air during prime time (7:30pm to 10pm) on one provincial satellite channel weekly.

SARFT also says no more than 10 TV talent shows can be approved annually on provincial satellite TVs, and they shall not repeat in categories.

Due to Taiwan’s boycott against Mainland artists and its impact on Mainland market, there will now also be restrictions on the appearance of Taiwanese artists, according to Netease. (Update: The Taiwan Affairs Office has since denied that this is true.)

34 provincial satellite TV stations will be affected, while China Central Television, the national state TV will not, and all regulations will take effect after Jan. 1, 2012

Over infotainment?

While SARFT regularly imposes restrictions on shows that are “about criminality” and document “social evils and conflicts”, it encourages “harmonious, healthy and main melody” shows, such as art appreciation, history, geography, astrology and charity, Southern Metropolitan Daily reports.

SARFT also requires all provincial satellite TV to have at least one “moral program”.

The restrictions come on the heels of a recent People’s Daily condemnation on “excessive entertainment” on China’s TV , saying “boycotting excessive infotainment is TV media’s duty”.

The official mouthpiece names and shames several popular TV shows and urges restrictions on the air of dating shows, talent shows, emotion shows, games, varieties, talk shows and reality shows during prime time.

No surprise

The restrictions on entertainment shows on provincial satellite TV comes as no surprise, and follows a spate of restrictions that have been occurring this year.

In September, Hunan TV’s “Super Girl”, a Chinese version of American Idol featuring girls, was pulled permanently off the air, despite its popularity among Chinese youngsters.

This past July, there was a rumor going around that SARFT would announce that China’s national satellite TV stations’ entertainment programs would only be allowed to air three times a week, and only at non-primetime hours (5pm to 10pm). SARFT later denied the rumor.

And in 2010, the dating show “If You Are the One”(非诚勿扰) was forced to rectify itself amid criticism from state media, while several similar programs were pulled off the air.

But in all honesty, this won’t affect most young people’s access to entertainment, who’re the main demographic being targeted by the controversial shows in the first place. Hardly any college student or teenaged migrant worker owns a television, which is seen increasingly as mere furniture amongst Chinese people under 30, rather than the place to watch their favorite shows. We’ll give you one guess as to where all those eyeballs went.




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