Six more diktats from Chinese TV censors panic netizens and screenwriters

August 6, 2012Jing Gao3 Comments, , , , , , , , , , , , ,


State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT), China’s top regulator/censor, has recently slapped six new stringent restrictions on television production:

1, Revolutionary dramas should draw a clear-cut distinction between China and its enemies, between heroes and villains;
2, Domestic conflicts cannot be magnified without a limit;
3, Period dramas’ story lines cannot be fictional or dramatized;
4, Dramas portraying business rivalry or feud should be careful of its moral guidance;
5, Dramas with a plot line based on or borrowed from a foreign television series cannot be aired;
6, Adaption of web fiction is discouraged; online games should not be adapted into television series.

The six rules were seen as a further move by the Chinese authorities to clean up the already sanitized and moralized screen. Most writers complain they may be put out of job.

Porcelain Green, a drama about behind-the-scenes deals of an auction house and businessmen in cahoots with the judicial system to maximize profits, drew big ratings on Hunan Satellite TV, which may have motivated SARFT to scrutinize business-themed dramas.

The much anticipated drama Xuan Yuan Jian, or Sword of Yellow Emperor, will be axed, for it is written based on pre-history Chinese mythology and adapted from a popular role-playing online video game. 

Lin Lisheng, a screenwriter, lamented on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo, “Is this going to smash the rice bowls of most screenwriters? Brothers and sisters, hold well your bowl!” Gao Xuan, screenwriter for Defensive War for Marriage, a popular soap opera, wrote, “Gonna quit writing, seal up my fingers.” He Ping, a famous Chinese director, commented, “Letting a hundred flowers blossom is now being restricted, whereas letting a hundred schools of thought contend proves an empty promise.”

Netizens, on the other hand, believe the six taboos will render Chinese television pretty much unwatchable.

韩志国: [Then the Four Great Classical Novels can no longer be adapted into TV]: 1, Three Kingdoms blurs lines between enemies and friends; Journey to the West blurs lines between humans and monsters; Water Margin blurs lines between heroes and villains; Red Chamber blurs lines between masters and servants. 2, Journey to the West magnifies humans-monsters conflicts; Water Margin magnifies conflicts between the ruler and the ruled; Red Chamber magnifies men-women conflicts; Three Kingdoms magnifies regional conflicts. 3, Water Margin made up the story of “enforcing justice on behalf of Heaven”; Red Chamber made up stories of cads and femmes fatales; Three Kingdoms made up the domineering army advisor; Journey to the West made up the charm of the wonderland.

潘石屹: Great policy. They are going to phase out television, the museum piece, and make everybody use the Internet.

姐爱打酱油[g头晕]All types of drama that I love to watch have been restricted. What TV can I possibly watch?! Will have to sell my TV set tomorrow and go online.

北京_刘伟: It reminds of me the era when people throughout China, young and old, men and women, could only watch the Eight Model Revolutionary Operas.

伊尹博文伊藤博文兄弟:They are digging their own grave.//@李开复: If no one watches TV any more, and everyone only uses the Internet, what can SARFT do?

夏沫之焰:So they are allowed to make things up, whereas ordinary people are not; they are allowed to twist facts whereas ordinary people are not. The officials are allowed to burn down houses, while the common people are forbidden even to light lamps.

An overview of some bizarre and absurd orders and guidelines passed by SARFT in the past decade.

2002: When Meteor Garden, a hugely popular Taiwanese teen drama, were drawing a near record viewership, SARFT ordered all television stations to abruptly end airing the show, dampening the audience’s enthusiasm.

2006: March, SARFT ordered broadcasters all over the country to stop airing foreign shows dubbed in a vernacular or dialect. Sichuanese version of Tom and Jerry, which proved a huge success in drawing viewers, could then only be released on DVDs.

April 2006: Hosts of the singing competition Super Girl, at the time the most popular entertainment show in China, must refrain from siding any contestant and promote mainstream values. In case you wonder, in China, mainstream values are synonymous with red, revolutionary, pro-communist values.

August 2006: Television stations at all levels must not run any foreign-made animated series during prime time, effective September 1. During the 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. time slots, only animated cartoon series produced by Chinese production companies can be aired.

January 2007: In the lead-up to the upcoming 17th National People’s Congress, SARFT required that from February to October, all satellite television run nothing but mainstream dramas and series, that is, revolutionary or communist-themed programs in the eight-month period .

February 2007: TV hosts from Hong Kong and Taiwan cannot appear on the same show three times in a row; regional TV stations should not have blind faith in hosts from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

April 2007: Singing competition Super Boy should change its name to Happy Boy. It must be aired on tape-delay. Songs that contestants choose must be healthy and echo the mainstream values. Scenes of eliminated contestants crying and hugging their friends and families, and of fans and supporters cheering and chanting, should not be shown. 盘点近年来广电总局下发的那些脑残禁令

2009: Singing competition Happy Girl (f.k.a. Super Girl) from auditions to the final can last now longer than two and a half months. No text voting is allowed. Must be aired after 10:30 p.m.盘点近年来广电总局下发的那些脑残禁令

January 2009: Police procedural and crime dramas should be avoided, for the thrilling elements of the plot line pose danger to the society and may be imitated by criminals.

March 2010: No English abbreviation and acronym, for example, NBA, GDP, and WTO, can be used in newscast, interviews and captions. Their Chinese equivalents should be used instead. Netizens joked that if the word ‘NBA’ is to be banned, so is “CCTV.”

April 2011: Time travel films and dramas should be avoided, for they disrespects history.

August 2011: Excessive entertainment must be curbed. Artists from Hong Kong and Taiwan should not be shown on mainland entertainment shows.

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3 comments to “Six more diktats from Chinese TV censors panic netizens and screenwriters”

  1. Lol China | August 7, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    What a joke. Chinese telly programmes just got even shittier.

  2. Blacksoth | August 7, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Allow me to translate the SARAFT changes for those that don’t understand:

    1. In Revoluationary Dramas good guys should all wear white, bad guys should have black moustaches and laugh maniacally every 15min.

    2. Everything is peace and love in the heavenly kingdom. Save your hatred for evil foreigners like the japanese and americans that deserve it.

    3. Re-writing of history for any reason is wrong. Besides, you’re taking jobs away from loyal party members. Also very wrong.

    4. There is no questionable morality in chinese business, so don’t show any (TV shows about government are outright forbidden.)

    5. Stop copying foreign tv shows. We need all foreign fiction for our CCTV news.

    6. Anything popular is bad. How can we control all those people?! Don’t encourage the netizens, they’re all criminals.

    I’m sure I left many things out but you get the idea. :D

  3. east2west | August 10, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    SARFT rules tend to make it harder for the Chinese movie industry to compete effectively with their western counterparts.

    Check out this article on the recent box office receipts in China:

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