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Excessive Entertainment Worries Chinese TV Regulators

Talent shows again eyed by broadcast authorities

HONG KONG – Mainland Chinese regulators have once again moved to curb the amount of talent shows airing on Chinese TV.

A spokesman for the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SGAPPRFT) said on Wednesday that satellite channels should produce singing talent shows for a given period of time. It did not specify the duration.

It is also getting involved in scheduling. Shows that have been produced but not aired will be delayed till after summer. While those currently on air will have to be timed so as not to screen on multiple channels at the same time.

The success of shows including “The Voice of China,” “Chinese Idol” and “Happy Boys” has sparked numerous copycat shows. Between 2009-2012 shows based on some 30 foreign formats were authorized.

The SGAPPRFT said the new moves are intended to promote diversity and to “avoid repetition of similar programs and offer audiences more choices.”

The copycat shows have also driven TV production cost inflation, notably the appearance fees charged by celebrity judges.

Chinese regulators have been trying to curb the TV sector for a couple of years. In 2011 SARFT, the predecessor to the SGAPPRFT, limited the country’s satellite channels to 90 minutes of entertainment broadcasting twice a week during prime time to curb “excessive entertainment and low taste.”

Broadcasters have largely shrugged off the proposed changes, saying that rescheduling is part of their normal operating activities.

The SGAPPRFT released figures for recent TV drama approvals. It may it green-lighted 103 TV dramas with 3,354 episodes. Of these, 69 dramas (comprising 2,199 episodes) were contemporary themed series, 4 (119 episodes) are modern themed, 23 (731 episodes) are recent history themed, and 7 series (305 episodes) are period dramas. Only one series (57 episodes) was classified as “featuring significant historical stories.”

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