China "to curb TV entertainment shows'

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China will replace popular television entertainment with so-called "healthy" programming, local media reported on Tuesday.

The move by the State Administration of Radio Film and Television comes days after senior Communist Party leaders said cultural reforms were needed to balance the nation's increasingly speedy adoption of a market economy.

It also follows a SARFT edict in September forcing hit talent show "Super Girl" off the air after a six-year run.

Much like its US counterpart, "Super Girl" -- launched in 2004 -- proved an instant hit, attracting hundreds of millions of viewers, turning some of its contestants into celebrities, and attracting millions in advertising.

Under the order, SARFT said the nation's leading 34 satellite broadcasters would be barred next year from airing "excessive entertainment" and forced to show at least two hours of news each evening, the official Xinhua news agency said.

No evidence of the new order was found on the SARFT web site, but earlier this month, TV industry reports quoted SARFT publicity director Jin Delong as saying that the restrictions were expected to come into effect on January 1.

In September, SARFT posted a related directive offering "Advice on Strengthening Management of Satellite TV Channels."

The earlier guidance and Tuesday news reports said broadcasters would be encouraged to air programs promoting "harmony, health and mainstream culture."

China's provincial level satellite broadcasters, which official data show reach about 95 percent of the population of 1.3 billion, have in recent years been pushing to air more attractive shows as a means to sell advertising time.

Many of the broadcasters have emphasized edgy programming tailored to younger viewers, at once pressuring government-controled China Central Television to up its game and attracting conservative critics' attention.

Analysts say this has triggered official concern and forced some of the racier programs to tone down or be shut down.

In January, the southwestern megacity of Chongqing ordered its Chongqing Satellite Television channel to replace popular sitcoms with programming featuring classic revolutionary songs and stories, state media said.

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