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China Daily Website

TV series viewers worried after ban

Updated: 2012-08-04 08:00
By Han Bingbin ( China Daily)

Chinese TV series fans are worrying they may have nothing interesting to watch on TV after the country's top broadcasting watchdog issued new guidelines that restrict the making of six genres of serials on the Chinese small screen.

The six guidelines issued by the State Administration of Film, Radio and Television ban remakes of foreign serials and serials based on online games. The guidelines also demand that revolution-themed TV series clearly distinguish between friend and foe, and that serials in a modern setting cut down excessive displays of family conflicts. Serials adapted from online novels are also "not encouraged".

The information was first released on a micro blog published by Zhongguo Juben Wang (the China Script Website), who said that the news was first heard at a national TV serial conference.

The information caused panic among scriptwriters, such as Lin Lisheng and his peers, who complained on Sina Weibo - a popular micro-blogging service - that they might lose their jobs.

An anonymous official from the administration confirmed the information to the Beijing News on Thursday, saying the new guidelines became effective a few days ago.

That same day, more than 900,000 micro-bloggers discussed the topic on weibo.

"I am shocked by the guidelines. So will we still have interesting TV serials to watch in the future?" said Xu Kai, a loyal fan of historical dramas.

The guidelines demand that historical dramas cull out fabrication and dramatization. But in Xu's opinion, as long as a historical drama, which is different from a documentary, gets the basic facts right, dramatized details are necessary because otherwise the show will be boring to watch. The so-called clear distinction between friend and foe, she added, will also make shows uninteresting because it will stereotype all the characters.

Xu's views are supported by culture critic Tan Fei.

Tan said that the guidelines will prevent scriptwriters from fully applying their talent and creativity and pose a major challenge to the TV industry's "core values".

He predicted the guidelines will have a "huge impact" on the whole industry as its favorite subjects and major sources of inspiration will be wiped out.

But veteran TV serial director Wang Huisheng remained optimistic. He said that in the guidelines, only two genres of serials are strictly banned. For other genres, the administration uses vague terms such as "excessive" and "not encouraged". For him, that means there's room for negotiation and compromise.

"I don't think that it will have a huge influence. It doesn't mean we have all to give up our ongoing projects because they fit into the dangerous genres. We may just have to slightly adjust them," he said.

For Wang, the administration's purpose is not to wipe out those TV serial genres. At a time when the screen is replete with "slipshod and illogical productions that blindly follow market trends", he said, the guidelines are rather a method to "encourage original and better productions".

But he still worries that his work will be harder in the future. While the guidelines point out what the authorities don't like, he said, they don't provide a clear standard as to what kind of choices will be appreciated.

"I hope the administration will point us in a clear direction, like what genres of TV serials are safe choices. We can't keep guessing what it is they want us to film," he said.