China to curb 'overly entertaining' reality TV shows

Louise Duffy ©RapidTVNews | 26-10-2011

China plans to limit reality TV shows as part of a drive to wrest back Communist Party control over cultural industries that are fuelling more independent viewpoints.

The order from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) refers to shows that are vulgar or "overly entertaining", with the emphasis on programmes dealing with marital troubles and matchmaking, talent shows, game shows, variety shows, talk shows, and reality programming.

Shows of this type must be largely phased out by the beginning of next year by the country's 34 satellite TV stations, to be replaced with news and cultural programming. The order also bans viewership surveys and the use of ratings as the sole criteria for whether to broadcast a particular show.

"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 SARFT order said.

Satellite channels as a whole can show no more than nine of the restricted programmes each night between 7.30pm and 10.00pm, with individual channels limited to two programmes each, not exceeding 90 minutes in total.

They must also show at least two hours of news programmes between 6.00am and 11.30pm, with at least two news programmes running for at least 30 minutes each to be shown in prime time.