China bans long dramas

BEIJING — China has issued a ban on television dramas that are longer than 20 episodes, according to a senior government official.

Tong Xiangrong, a vice minister of the Ministry of Radio, Film and Television, told a recent meeting that the prohibition would apply to both Chinese and foreign programming.

Famous dramas would be exempt from the new restrictions, he added.

In the past, many production companies have artificially lengthened dramas to earn greater advertising revenue, leading to poor quality programming. Both the government and audiences have been calling for shorter TV dramas for the past year.

Of the 12,000 TV dramas scheduled to be produced in 1997, 11,000 are considered long, with an average length of 20 episodes.

Meanwhile, the national network, China Central Television (CCTV), has adjusted its programming for channels 1-4 and 8.

CCTV 1, the news channel, added an extra news broadcast at 6 a.m. and extended the evening news program from 30 to 45 minutes. The 7:55 p.m. slot was taken over by a new technology program.

CCTV 2, the business channel, has moved “Economic Half Hour,” “Lifestyle” and “China Financial Report” to primetime, between 7:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

CCTV 4, the international channel, has been turned into a news and information channel, with twice as many English-language programs following the restructuring.

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