China's New TV Censorship May Be A Sign That State Control Is Losing Its Grip
New Chinese regulations limiting entertainment shows on regional television channels may be an attempt to halt the declining ratings of the CCTV state-controlled network. But with the growth of the Internet, and other new freedoms, it may not work this ti
BEIJING - A few days ago, China's State Administration of Radio Film and Television released a new directive dubbed: the Entertainment Limitation Order, imposing strict new regulations on the entertainment programs that Chinese satellite TV stations are allowed to broadcast to viewers.
The central target of the regulations is to limit the number of "entertainment" shows during prime time hours. According to the new regulations, each satellite channel is only permitted to broadcast two entertainment programs per week between 7:30 and 10:00 p.m. There are even stricter limits on talent shows, which cannot exceed more than ten per year. There is also a requirement that each TV station produce an "ethics construction" program, and forced reductions in the number of Taiwanese artists presented on air.
The regulations, however, are only applied to some 30 provincial satellite TVs. This excludes the state-owned CCTV. Some are therefore asking whether the origin behind this new directive is to counteract the declining popularity of CCTV's news programs and recreational shows. Currently, at 7:00 p.m. every night, Chinese viewers who want a bit of information have no choice but to watch the so-called "News Network" of the Chinese Communist Party, and the government's propaganda machine. This is not only broadcast by CCTV itself, but also on a provincial-level by local stations that are obliged to air it.
Last month, an amusing show usually airing on provincial Hunan TV called "Super Girl", a highly popular Chinese version of American Idol, was banned, sparking public outcry. Officially, the government accused the program of often running past its allotted time, but the public believe that it's because the authorities were worried that the audience might get inspired by the voting system and American-style democracy of the singing contest with viewer participation.
The Chinese authorities still regard television as a channel for ideological education of its people, even if in recent years, the development of web media is increasingly challenging the government's continuing attempts to censor the news or control certain types of TV programs from airing from either inside or outside of China.
As Wuyue Sanren, a commentator at this newspaper, puts it: any society that flaunts the morality flag cannot really work with a sense of morality. Rather it's those societies with pluralistic entertainment and values that touch the common bottom line of our humanity. Alas, everyone knows this truth, just not the managers of this government.
Read the full version of the article in Chinese in E.O.
photo - HunanTV
*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations