China curbing song contests

Reality shows out of tune with authorities

China’s TV authorities are cutting the number of weeks that “American Idol”-style singing contests can run after complaints in the media that many artificially extend their runs to make more money from SMS voting.

Televised talent contests are hugely popular in China and the most successful — “Supergirls” (Hunan Satellite TV), “My Hero” (Shanghai TV) and “Dream China” (China Central Television) — dominate ratings and have created a new generation of pop stars.

The latest series of each show last year lasted more than four months. The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television is limiting the skeins to a maximum of 10 weeks.

Reality shows remain a problem for the authorities, especially at a time when Western influences on Chinese culture are being questioned. Voting for your favorite pop star is a hot topic in a country that still lacks universal suffrage.

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