It was announced. Its now confirmed. China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television / Sarft announced on Tuesday 25th October that it would cap the number of entertainment programs, including reality TV shows, that the nation’s 34 satellite channels can air during prime time at two each week beginning next year.
Under the new directive, a channel can also broadcast a maximum of 90 minutes of content defined as entertainment every day during prime time – 7:30 pm to 10 pm. According to the official Xinhua news agency, Sarft said the channels can show only nine entertainment programs in total, during prime time.
Less reality shows .. more news
The regulator wants to encourage the channels to add news and educational fare as well as documentaries. When all the new rules come into enforcement on January 1, 2012, channels will be required to broadcast at least two hours of news programs between 6 am and midnight. Between 6 pm and 11:30 pm, they will have to broadcast at least two 30-minute news programs.
In its statement, the Sarft justified this new regulation by a desire to limit “excessive entertainment and low taste”. Matchmaker programs, talent contests, talk shows and reality shows are especially in the target ! According to some observers, morality is not the only reason of this new regulation. The protection of CCTV and its more conservative content is another key issue for Beijing.
According to China Daily, ”the SARFT has asked its provincial branches to set up special teams to supervise satellite channels in meeting the new requirements. It warned that those violating the rules would face punishments ranging from formal warnings to suspension of broadcast.”
This decision could have strong impact on the regional satellite TV stations which are relying a lot reality programming to increase audience and revenues and fight against the national broadcaster CCTV. The regulation could also reduce the appeal of foreign formats in Mainland.
Online reaction on China’s Internet and social networks was largely critical against the new rules. This decision follows the recent suspension of the hit show Super Girl (a Chinese version of “American Idol) by Hunan TV (Read ARTICLE on CSN²) and a meeting of senior Communist officials last week in which cultural issues appeared to dominate the discussions.
SOURCES: Wall Street Journal, Xinhua, Shanghaiist (25/10/2011)
IN THE PRESS:
. China limits entertainment programs on TV (China Daily, 25/10/11)
. “China to curb TV entertainment, replace popular shows with “healthy” programming” (Vancouver Sun / AFP, 25/10/11)