Chinese broadcasters have axed two-thirds of popular TV shows in line with a government directive to curb "excessive entertainment," according to local media reports.
Beijing's Xinhua news agency said the number of prime-time entertainment shows on satellite TV had dropped to just 38 per week since the directive came into force on Jan. 1, Agence France Presse reported. There used to be 126.
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Air time will be filled instead with extended news bulletins and "programs that promote traditional virtues and socialist core values," the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) was cited as saying.
The watchdog issued its order in October, with the stated aim of "preventing excessive entertainment and vulgar content so as to meet the people's demand for more delicate programs," according to China National TV. The new rules were given as follows:
The total number of entertainment shows aired daily by the 34 channels between 7:30 PM and 10 PM is restricted to nine. For each channel, only two entertainment programs are allowed in a week, and will be limited to 90 minutes each.
The new directive does not give a definition for entertainment shows or to what extent they will be considered excessive, but lists match-making shows, game shows, talk shows, talent shows and reality shows as its primary targets.
The programs already axed include talk shows, "emotional stories," games and competitions, variety shows and reality television, Xinhua said.
In addition to content perceived as "low taste," Chinese regulators also "keep gritty programming involving crime, violence and social issues off the air," according to the Wall Street Journal. The controls are seen as part of the ruling Communist Party's effort to portray China as "a society of decreasing contradictions and increasing happiness," Willy Wo-Lap Lam, an adjunct professor of history at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Bloomberg.
According to the BBC, China has the largest TV audience in the world, with an estimated 95 percent of its 1.3 billion population tuning in.
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Before its recent entertainment TV cuts, China also issued a one-month moratorium in July on foreign films in order to promote a state-sponsored propaganda movie called "Beginning of the Great Revival."
Watch below to see how China placed the moratorium on Hollywood: