China to limit 'vulgar' reality television shows

Satellite dishes on a building
Image caption Satellite television channels are hugely popular in China, but often fall foul of authorities

China is to clamp down on the number of entertainment shows broadcast on satellite television channels in a bid to boost public morality.

Authorities are concerned at the "vulgar tendencies" of light entertainment shows, particularly reality TV, dating and talk shows.

From next year, satellite channels will each be permitted to screen only two programmes of this type a week.

Networks will be required to promote "socialist core values" instead.

The directive, from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, follows a Communist Party meeting last week which asserted the need to strengthen social morality.

The crackdown is intended to improve social cohesion in the face of rising materialism, and wrest back Communist Party control over cultural industries that are promoting alternative viewpoints.

It coincides with a bout of national hand-wringing over a perceived decline in public morality, highlighted by the recent death of a toddler left for dead by passers by after being hit by a vehicle.

'Overly entertaining'

The order states that during the peak hours of 19:30 to 22:00, the country's 34 satellite TV channels will be allowed to broadcast nine hours of "overly entertaining" content between them.

No channel will be permitted to screen more than 90 minutes of such programming in prime time.

Each station must also air at least two hours of news during the day, including an hour in prime time, and produce documentaries and other shows to promote traditional and socialist values.

The ruling had been made to "meet the public's demand for varied, multilevel, and high-quality viewing," the order said.

"Satellite channels are mainly for the broadcast of news propaganda and should expand the proportion of news, economic, cultural, science and education, children's, and documentary programming."

The BBC's Martin Patience, in Beijing, says China's satellite channels are hugely popular, but by focusing on entertainment programmes have frequently fallen foul of the authorities.

Last month regulators ordered a TV station to stop broadcasting a popular talent show called Super Girl, saying it was "too long". A senior employee at the station said the authorities had been jealous of the popularity of the programme.

Earlier this year, Chinese television stations were ordered not to air any detective shows, spy thrillers or dramas about time-travel in the months leading up to the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party, but to focus on programming celebrating the party instead.

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