Primetime ban on cop shows

SARFT hopes to create 'healthier environment'

SHANGHAI — The Chinese broadcasting industry’s governing body has issued new directives cracking down on programming that features violence and corruption in primetime.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) wants to create a “healthier environment” for viewers by easing out programs that portray “horrific images, violence and police cases.”

The rules are thought to have been timed to kick in before the annual May Day holidays, which started on May 1, when children are off school.

Police dramas are increasingly popular in China, with industry insiders suggesting they make up close to 40% of programming.

Zhao Baogang, director of the popular and racy “Farewell Vancouver” drama series about Chinese living in Canada, was planning two cop series for later in the year.

The first, “Video Tape,” is already in postproduction. “If we are affected by the new rules, I will have it played during off-peak times,” Zhao says.

Production on the second series was due to start this month, but is now on hold.

Another production company, which specialises in cop series, is reported to have lost 20 million yuan ($2.4 million) in new commissions due to the new ruling.

SARFT has also banned programs featuring computer games in a bid to “give children a healthier environment in which to grow up.”

The org also suggested that production houses “consider their actions carefully” when they film “hongse jingdian” (classic revolutionary tales). SARFT warned that younger filmmakers have only a limited understanding of the period.

The new rulings are the latest in a long line of attempts by SARFT to control TV content.

In 2000, it issued a directive limiting Taiwanese and Hong Kong programming to 15% of the total during peak hours. And at the beginning of this year, new rules restricted advertising during the same period.