China Cracks Down On "American Idol"-Type TV Shows

In addition, the government ordered local networks to provide more "morality-building" documentaries and news shows.

What's the Latest Development?


Last weekend the Chinese government announced new rules for local television stations: The airing of popular musical singing competitions, which are similar in format to "American Idol" and "The X Factor," must be reduced, while "morality-building" documentaries and news shows must make up at least 30 percent of total programming. The announcement follows another earlier this year in which stations were ordered to dial down the "dazzling packaging" and "sensational elements" of the talent shows.

What's the Big Idea?

Writer Lily Kuo offers some suggestions on why TV singing competitions may be getting picked on by the state. One involves their reliance on public participation via voting, which may make officials uncomfortable. Another is the type of audience response: "In March, Chinese viewers booed and voted off a previously popular contestant after he sang communist revolutionary songs, a sign of how much young Chinese dislike patriotic or 'red' pledges of allegiance to the party." Finally, it may just be a matter of taking out the competition: Local stations' shows are simply more interesting than what state media has to offer.

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