In an attempt to tackle “vulgar” and “excessive” entertainment in Chinese television, authorities have banned satellite broadcasters from buying the rights to more than one foreign-made program per year.
The new ruling would come into effect in 2014, and these foreign shows would not be allowed to air during prime time hours between 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. during the year the rights were purchased, said a statement from the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SGAPPRFT) published in Chinese state media on Sunday.
Last February, new rules by regulators limited imported television shows to 50 episodes, with not more than 25% of a station’s total air time devoted to foreign programs.
Authorities said these key hours of the day would be filled with “morality-building programs” with an educational value.
The Chinese government has become increasingly concerned about such shows as “Chinese Idol”, a talent show that is similar to “American Idol”, because they are easy to license and hugely popular with both viewers and sponsors, said a CNN report.
Xia Chen’an, Deputy Editor-in-chief fo Zhejiang satellite television said the new rules would help promote the originality of Chinese programs and tackle “excessive” entertainment and lack of diversity. They would also address concerns about the “vulgarity” of Chinese television, he said.
But others disagree.
One senior media professional said, “regulating TV entertainment feels like something we would do during the Maoist era.”
Others are worried the new regulations, combined with the rapid growth of the Internet and mobile television market, would drive away television viewers.
On social media, many have criticized the new rules as arbitrary and ignorant.
“Cultural dictatorship, we can’t do anything about it,” said one user.
“This is sick, are we going back to Cultural Revolution,” said another. “TV is useless now; fortunately, we still have computers.”
“What a ridiculous regulation, it’s clearly CCTV is afraid of losing its status or fearful to competition, so they can only use despicable measures to suppress other satellite televisions,” posted another.