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CCTV's live on childbirth raises hackles
(Shenzhen Daily)
Updated: 2004-06-21 09:59

On June 9, CCTV-1 telecast two women in labor in the program "Chinese Population." This is the first time a TV show of this kind has ever been beamed nationwide and subsequently triggered widespread comment.

Doctors help the women in labour. It's one scenario from CCTV-1's program "Chinese Population." [CCTV] 

The fahter-to-be, outside the delivery room, prays for his wife and the coming baby. [CCTV]
Ben Williams


Firstly, I would applaud CCTV and its governing body in presenting for the first time such a candid program. This is another of the measured, but nonetheless, effective and forward thinking examples of change and the relaxation of orthodox precedents in many government supervised departments and organizations that we are seeing today.

Perhaps the nature of the program may at first seem controversial, especially when such ground-breaking steps have been taken in combination with the national modesty surrounding childbirth. Nevertheless, as long as such programs are captioned with a warning of content so that people _ and especially parents _ can choose to watch or not to watch, I would think that shows of this nature serve an educational purpose.

In Western society we have been awash with graphic documentaries since the seventies and you can regularly watch similar programs during prime time TV on BBC, The Learning Channel, National Geographic, to name just a few. Personally, I find programs like these to be far more palatable than the carnage of war and terrorism that we seem to have no problems viewing daily on the evening news.

In my view, as long as these programs are aired to inform rather than to shock, and that suitable safeguards are in place to protect the rights or wishes of the individuals in them, and that there is definite educational benefit for the viewer, I can see no reason why such programs should not be aired.

Zhang Heping

Shenzhen sociologist

I don't know why CCTV aired such a program. Personally I am not in favor of the idea to make this special physiological experience of women into a TV program and broadcast it nationwide. This experience is about women's privacy.

It is Ok to show such a program on special occasions such as in an academic class or in hospitals for intending parents. Airing of it in public is disrespectful of women's rights of privacy. Airing of it in public is meaningless.

Childbirth is a sacred thing. Showing it without discretion is disgusting, blasphemous against its sacredness. It is also an insult to the entire female population.

Zhu Hui


Beijing University Shenzhen Hospital

It's not surprising for me to know that women in labor have been aired in TV.

I heard that some marriage expert said that airing such a program could so negatively influence a man that he might develop a rejection for sex. I don't think it would be so serious. The program is just a popular science one. You can choose to watch it or you can choose not to watch it.

I didn't watch the program myself but I was told that the faces and some parts of the women in labor were blocked from view in the program. This reflects the difference in the Eastern and Western culture. Giving birth is a natural part of life, just like a person eats. So what of it could be so disgusting as some people called it挂

Since there is a cultural difference between East and West, such programs should be better made to cater for Chinese people's acceptance.

All in all, such programs have positive significance and nothing to do with bizarreness.

Chen Liping


As a woman who has not had the experience of giving birth, I think this program was helpful in providing us with a lot of information about giving birth. And I agree with some people's opinions that such a program should not be broadcast without discretion. It should target a certain group of people and be aired in a chosen time. If it is shown to everyone without choice _ in some sense everyone should know about how women give birth _ some images should be taken out.

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