China moves to clean up TV screens

Updated: 2007-01-12 20:22

BEIJING -- The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) will crack down on vulgar reality shows in 2007, said Wang Taihua, general director of the SARFT on Friday.

Reality TV is booming in China.

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The move is part of the efforts to "clean up TV screens," said Wang at an annual work conference attended by heads of provincial bureaus in charge of radio, film and TV studios and programs. Other measures include tighter supervision of legal and entertainment programs.

"There have been too many reality shows on our TV screens," Wang complained. "Many are low-quality, low-brow programs, only catering to the bottom end of the market."

Following the successful "Super Voice Girls" based on "American Idol," Chinese television stations have come up with more than 500 such programs.

Even reclusive Buddhists could not resist the lure of the market. Shaolin Temple, hidden among deep mountains in central Henan province and famous for its martial arts, teamed up with Shenzhen Television Station to run a Shaolin Kongfu star contest last year.

But many viewers have complained that some competitors do their utmost to reveal their bodies.

"There are too many reality shows, they are too chaotic and some of them are too vulgar," General Director Wang told the national conference. "The government must strengthen supervision of entertainment programs, and restrict the number of reality show programs to upgrade their quality."

He promised to step up efforts to provide guidelines for program design, censor programs before they air, and carry out real-time monitoring, in order to "curb the trend of pursuing higher audience ratings by blindly catering to public sensationalism."


Xinhua has learned that some delegates to the meeting defended reality shows as a successful TV program format. Some of them, like Central Television's "Inspiring China", are not only famous but profitable.

As reality shows penetrate people's daily lives, Yu Guoming, the vice-dean of Renmin University's School of Journalism and Communication, said that the craze for reality shows reflects the public's desire to participate.

"In a market economy, we should encourage this kind of experimental move as long as they do not break the law or offend moral criteria," Yu said.

"We should not lose sight of the fact that reality show contests encourage the spirit of participation among ordinary people," said Zhang Yiwu, a professor in Beijing University's Chinese Department.

But noted scholar Lin Xudong warned that "when there are more than 500 reality shows in the country bombarding TV screens simultaneously, something must be done, even if such programs are not wrong in themselves."

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