Broadcast authorities to clean up programming

SHANGHAI — Reality TV just received a reality check in China, where broadcast authorities have announced a crackdown on the “vulgar” programming.

Wang Taihua, general director of the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television, launched an initiative to “clean up TV screens” last week at an annual broadcast conference in Beijing, according to a report by state news agency Xinhua.

“There have been too many reality shows on our TV screens,” Wang was quoted as saying. “Many are low-quality, low-brow programs, only catering to the bottom end of the market.”

Reality TV, late to arrive in China, has seen something of a boom in recent years. The most successful show to date, “Supergirls,” which played on regional powerhouse Hunan Satellite TV, was a take on “Pop Idol”-style talent shows; it launched the careers of several now hugely popular singers.

There are estimated to be about 500 reality-based television programs spread across China’s 50 or so cable channels, including a Shaolin Temple-inspired kung fu competition, several business-focused shows a la “The Apprentice”, and, a recent hit on Shanghai’s Dragon TV, a Beijing Opera talent contest.

Wang said Sarft would be providing new guidelines for program content, extending censorship of such programs and carrying out real-time monitoring to “curb the trend of pursuing higher audience ratings by blindly catering to public sensationalism.”

The Chinese media in recent weeks have been voicing concerns about blind imitation of western trends; purges against imported ideas have been a common theme in China’s politic scene since the 1950s.

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