While Chinese president Hu Jintao warned of the influence of Western culture, an order by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) to curb “excessive entertainment” came into effect on January 1st. (photo from chinahush.com)
Therefore satellite broadcasters have cut entertainment TV by two-thirds, state news agency Xinhua has reported.
Now each of China’s 34 satellite channels will be limited to only two entertainment programmes each week, and a maximum of 90 minutes of entertainment content every day from 19:30 to 22:00.
This means that the number of entertainment shows aired during prime time each week has gone from 126 to 38, in the country that has the largest number of television viewers in the world : an estimated 95% of its 1.3 billion inhabitants.
The order, which was issued by the SARFT in October 2011, also requires broadcasters to air at least two hours of news programming between 06:00 and midnight, and between 18:00 and 23:30 they must each broadcast at least two 30-minutes news programmes.
In a statement the SARFT said that : “Satellite channels have started to broadcast programmes that promote traditional virtues and socialist core values.”
Among the biggest casualties of the cuts are talent shows and reality TV, but talk shows and emotional stories are also on the list of restricted programmes that were deemed to be of “low taste” according to the Xinhua news report.
In September 2011 Hunan Satellite Television was told by censors to stop broadcasting the popular talent show Super Girl – which featured women of all ages in a singing contest – arguing that it was “too long”.
However on weekends popular dating shows, like If You Are The One produced by Jiangsu Satellite TV, as well as soap operas, like Li Yuan Chun produced by Henan Satellite TV, will still be on air during prime time, said the SARFT in its statement.
In 2010 If You Are The One broke viewership, which prompted copycat programmes by other broadcasters.
The satellite TV stations get bigger profits from those programmes due to their relatively low production costs and their high ratings. However regulators do not like the content both sensationalist and “vulgar”.