China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) recently issued its "Views on Further Strengthening Management of Satellite Television Entertainment Programming," in which it decreed that starting January 1, 2012, China's 34 satellite channels must increase the amount of news programming and decrease the amount of programming in certain other categories in order to curb "excessive entertainment and vulgar tendencies."
The "Views" dictate that starting January 1, satellite stations must air at least two hours of news programming between 6 AM and midnight every day, with more than two self-produced news programs of at least 30 minutes each to be aired between 6 PM and 11:30 PM. Each channel will also be required to establish a regular program dedicated to promoting the "traditional virtues of the Chinese people" and the "core values and morals of socialism."
The "Views" orders increased controls on broadcasts of "copycat programming," "a glut of prurient dating shows," "talent competitions," "romances," "gaming competitions," "general entertainment programming," "talk shows," and "reality shows." Between 7:30 PM and 10 PM, satellite channels across the country will be limited to a total of nine or fewer such programs in the listed categories, with each channel to be limited to no more than two such programs per week. No satellite channel will be permitted to broadcast more than 90 minutes of programming in the above categories between 7:30 PM and 10 PM. SARFT will also regulate programming in categories similar to the above-listed in order to avoid excessive homogenization of programming.
The "Views" set forth the "Three 'No's" - mandating that programs may not be ranked by ratings, that programming may not be eliminated from broadcast lineups purely because of low ratings, and that broadcast organizations and television programming may not be evaluated based solely on ratings.
The "Views" clearly require all broadcast authorities at the provincial level to establish dedicated "listening and viewing" organizations and to assign dedicated staff to closely monitor the issue of the ongoing trend towards televised entertainment and vulgarity.