Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Chinese authorities pull plug on 'vulgar' foreign-made TV

By Paul Armstrong and Feng Ke, CNN
updated 12:26 AM EDT, Tue October 22, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Satellite broadcasters banned from buying rights to more than one foreign-made program per year
  • Broadcasters previously told to cap imported television shows at 50 episodes
  • Regulations aimed at tackling "excessive" entertainment and the lack of diversity
  • Others are worried that the new regulation may drive away television viewers

(CNN) -- Chinese authorities have banned satellite broadcasters from buying the rights to more than one foreign-made program per year in a bid to tackle "vulgar" and "excessive" entertainment in Chinese television.

A statement from the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television and published in Chinese state media on Sunday said the ruling would come into effect in 2014. It also stated that these foreign shows would not be allowed to air in prime time between 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. during the year the rights were purchased.

In February, regulators issued broadcasters with a directive capping imported television shows to 50 episodes, with no more than 25% of a station's total air time devoted to foreign-produced programing.

READ: China has more internet monitors than soldiers

Instead these key times in the day will be filled with what it described as "morality-building programs" with an educational value.

On China: Reform
Author: Corruption hurt Communist Party
China's 'rumor hunters'

The authorities in China have become increasingly concerned by the rising reliance on shows such as "Chinese Idol," a talent show that replicates the formula of the hugely popular "American idol." Broadcasters have found these types of programs easy to license and hugely popular with viewers and sponsors alike.

But Xia Chen'an, Deputy Editor-in-chief of Zhejiang satellite television, said in a statement that the new regulations would help to promote the originality of Chinese programs and tackle "excessive" entertainment and the lack of diversity. He said they would also address concerns about the "vulgarity" of Chinese television.

READ: Web giants join forces in crackdown on 'online rumors'

Not everyone agrees.

"Eventually, the Chinese television market will move to a trend of 'less but good,'" one senior media professional, who preferred not to be named, told CNN. "But regulating TV entertainment feels like something we would do during the Maoist era."

Others are worried that the new regulations may drive away television viewers, especially with rapid growth of the Internet and mobile television market.

Regulating TV entertainment feels like something we would do during the Maoist era.
Chinese media professional

Meanwhile, news of the tightened regulations sparked an angry response on China's popular micro-blogging service, Weibo, with many criticizing the move as arbitrary and ignorant.

"Cultural dictatorship, we can't do anything about it," said one user known as sanbuzhongdeqie.

"This is sick, are we going back to Cultural Revolution?" asked another called fengkuangdeshiziMisselva. "TV is useless now; fortunately, we still have computers," he continued.

"What a ridiculous regulation, it's clear CCTV is afraid of losing its status or fearful to competition, so they can only use despicable measures to suppress other satellite televisions," posted another known as xiaojiewu.

Doing business behind China's 'Great Firewall'

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
See CNN's complete coverage on China.
updated 10:30 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
updated 5:11 AM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Is Xi Jinping a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
updated 11:44 PM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
updated 2:31 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
updated 7:24 AM EDT, Mon July 7, 2014
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
updated 12:14 AM EDT, Fri July 4, 2014
Hong Kong's narrow streets were once a dazzling gallery of neon, where banks and even bordellos plied their trade under sizzling tubular signs.
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Thu July 3, 2014
Three more officials have been given the chop as part of China's anti-corruption drive, including former aides to the retired security chief.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
As thousands of Hong Kongers prepare for an annual protest, voices in China's press warn pro-democracy activism is a bad idea.
updated 12:37 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Hong Kongers are demanding the right to directly elect their next leader, setting up a face-off with Beijing.
updated 2:56 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
updated 4:36 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
updated 11:34 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
updated 7:47 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Anna Coren visits Yulin's annual dog meat festival. Dogs are part of the daily diet here, with an estimated 10,000 dogs killed for the festival alone.
updated 2:38 AM EDT, Thu June 19, 2014
People know little about sex, but are having plenty of it. We take a look at the ramifications of a lack of sex education in China.
updated 4:12 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014
Hong Kongers have reacted angrily to a Chinese government white paper affirming Beijing's control over the territory.
The emphasis on national glory -- rather than purely personal achievement -- is key.
updated 12:14 PM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
A replica of the Effel Tower in Tianducheng, a luxury real estate development located in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province.
What's the Eiffel Tower doing in China? Replica towns of the world's most famous monuments spring up all over China.
updated 8:13 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Rapid development hasn't just boosted the economy -- it has opened up vast swathes of the country, says a man who has spent much of his life exploring it.
updated 2:54 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
The World Cup is apparently making a lot of people "ill" in China.
ADVERTISEMENT