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Television Censorship China Government Idle

China Cuts 'Excessive Entertainment' From TV 336

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-too-much dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Chinese broadcasters have axed two-thirds of popular TV shows in line with a government directive to curb 'excessive entertainment.' From the article: 'The rule, first announced in October, is targeted at what Chinese regulators have called "excessive entertainment and a trend toward low taste," to address the rise of talent shows, dating shows and other such programming aired by China's tightly regulated, but increasingly competitive, regional satellite broadcasters. Authorities also encouraged broadcasters to air more news and educational programming.' according to local media reports."
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China Cuts 'Excessive Entertainment' From TV

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  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Thursday January 05, 2012 @02:13AM (#38593360) Journal

    If the viewers can't find what they want on the tube, they'll get it somewhere else.

    -jcr

    • That's true (Score:4, Informative)

      by KuRa_Scvls (932317) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @02:44AM (#38593500)

      They are finding it from foreign sources.

      Especially from its immediate neighbours such as Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.

      Taiwan much more so as they speak the same language as mainland, yet are progressive and mirror the mindset of the first world countries, or the west.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That's true of geeks, but I wonder how true it is of most Chinese. We shouldn't underestimate how much the government can shift media consumption patterns by making access more difficult.

        • by msobkow (48369)

          You seriously underestimate the spread of technology in China.

          • Re:That's true (Score:5, Interesting)

            by wisty (1335733) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:58AM (#38594062)

            Funny story - the spread of technology in China is almost guaranteed to topple the idiots running North Korea. Firstly, it's made most Chinese despise the North Korean government, which makes the Chinese - North Korean alliance a bit of a farce. Everyone except North Korea (who think China is still their friend) knows that China's only concern now is whether or not it suffer any collateral damage (i.e. bombs, shells, or fallout falling on Chinese soil), and how to deal with the refugees.

            More importantly, North Koreans buy black-market goods from China. This includes iPod clones, many of which will come sold pre-loaded with the best Korean entertainment videos, all of which come from South Korea. It's getting harder and harder to explain that they are so superior, when all the South Korean shows are about families which are 10X richer than the families shown in pro-North propaganda.

            • And Yet (Score:5, Insightful)

              by d3ac0n (715594) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @07:49AM (#38594678)

              We still see video of people falling over themselves weeping when Kim-Jong "mentally" ill dies. Not to say that those videos aren't at least partially staged, but some "undercover" video has leaked out of NK showing that at least some of the weeping, wailing and carrying on was genuine. (I apologize for not having a link ATM. Search on YouTube. It's there.)

              Not to say that the new regime isn't weak, it certainly is. But not so weak that ipod clones are going to topple them anytime soon. We see how well "westernization" has "toppled" the communist Chinese government. (IE: Not at all) If Kim-Jong Un decides to modernize and westernize following the Chinese model, Korea isn't likely to see unification anytime in the next century.

              Sadly, there really is only ONE way to absolutely topple a government of any stripe. That's with violent revolution. The only way that Korea will unify is if SK invades and defeats NK. With NK's recent round of sabre-rattling, that's looking more and more likely every day.

              • by delinear (991444)
                You can't necessarily believe even "undercover" video shot in a state with such a police state regime. That could still be faked grief for the benefit of snooping neighbours or secret police. And does anyone really believe China is still on board with communism? Authoritarian I get, but the two don't necessarily go hand in hand - they're very market driven these days, they may pay lip service to communism but they're actually about as communist as we are democratic (i.e. broadly so but happy to ignore the f
                • by DarkOx (621550)

                  I have no problem accepting its genuine grief. In a state with tightly controlled media, no internet access, no travel, and a sophisticated propaganda machine, all those that don't live near the boarder quite likely don't know any better.

                  From their perspective everything they have, what little they do, is a gift from Dear Leader, they have no idea what he has denied them. They don't know have abusive, and capricious his system of law is, because as far as they are concerned its either that or law of the j

              • Re:And Yet (Score:5, Insightful)

                by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:30AM (#38594972) Journal

                China knows how to topple a civilization just fine. Give them free fish for years until they have forgotten what a fishing rod is and their children have never seen one, then withdraw the fish. That's how they're beating the west.

    • All power to China (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Taco Cowboy (5327)

      Excessive entertainment over the tube is one of the lead causes of the downfall of the Western nations.

      Turn on the tube if you don't believe me, flip some channels, see how many of the programs are of any value in the first place?

      No wonder over 90% of the American high school graduates can't even pinpoint their own country - the United States of America - on the world map.

      They have been dumbed down by the entertainment industry.

      • by MattBecker82 (1686358) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @03:15AM (#38593638)

        No wonder over 500% of Slashdot users post hyperbole without anything to back it up.

        Seriously, I don't know if you're joking or not, but your post is just false premises, non-sequiturs and made-up "facts". Analysis:

        Excessive entertainment over the tube is one of the lead causes of the downfall of the Western nations.

        You need to establish the premise of "the downfall of the Western nations" (whatever that means), then establish a cause-and-effect relationship between "excessive entertainment over the tube" and the former.

        Turn on the tube if you don't believe me, flip some channels, see how many of the programs are of any value in the first place?

        How are you establishing the "value" of TV programs exactly? By your own judgement as whether it's something you'd like to watch?

        No wonder over 90% of the American high school graduates can't even pinpoint their own country - the United States of America - on the world map.

        Citation needed. Or an admission that you just made this up.

        They have been dumbed down by the entertainment industry.

        Non-sequitur. Even if you establish two concurrent trends, it doesn't mean there is a connection or cause-and-effect relationship between them. [wikipedia.org]

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by dokc (1562391)
          Maybe he doesn't support with links what he claims, but he is nevertheless right. We are all dumbed down by the entertainment industry.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Not so, Only people who are already dumb watch this crap

          • by MattBecker82 (1686358) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:41AM (#38594002)

            I'm not looking for watertight scientific proof, but the GGP makes an extraordinary claim (i.e. that excess of "entertainment" TV shows causes the downfall of Western nations), and indeed it's possible this is right, just as it's possible the world is run by a secret society of reptilian fascists [wikipedia.org]. However, the GGP presents it as fact, and with no supporting evidence and only an illogical argument and further extraordinary claims to back it up, I see no reason to accept the claim.

            If he had presented it as opinion (which it is), and had omitted the ridiculous reference to the level of geography fail among US high school grads, then I wouldn't have had any cause to challenge it.

          • Maybe he doesn't support with links what he claims, but he is nevertheless right. We are all dumbed down by the entertainment industry.

            Perhaps if you watched Discovery instead of MTV, you'd be aware of the Flynn Effect

            • Flynn Effect [discovery.com] (Link didn't work the first time)
              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                Flynn Effect [discovery.com] (Link didn't work the first time)

                Errm, IQ Scores are always centered at 100 by definition. Ergo average IQ score can't go up or down, only the raw survey scores can. Who would have thought that the very channel you praise for not dumbing down the populace would dumb down that fact.

                • by LordKronos (470910) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:23AM (#38594902) Homepage

                  Flynn Effect [discovery.com]

                  (Link didn't work the first time)

                  Errm, IQ Scores are always centered at 100 by definition. Ergo average IQ score can't go up or down, only the raw survey scores can. Who would have thought that the very channel you praise for not dumbing down the populace would dumb down that fact.

                  Erm, no, sorry. IQ Scores are NOT always centered at 100 by definition. As raw scores shift higher, IQ scores will likewise shift higher until the the raw-score-to-IQ-score conversion process is renormalized. How often are they normalized? It wasn't an easy question to answer, but I found one website that claims they are only normalized "every 10 or so years".
                  http://www.psychpage.com/learning/library/intell/culture_iq_notes_5.html [psychpage.com]

                  Also, it seems that before the Flynn effect was discovered, there was no such periodic renormalizaion (which makes sense...why would you renormalize before anybody has even discovered that they've become unnormalized). Therefore at the time the Flynn effect was defined, scores were not normalized, and the Flynn effect was indeed described as IQ scores increasing over time. Look around the web. Every single reference to the Flynn effect I can find, even those from reputable sources, describe it as an increase in IQ scores over time. For instance, here's a page on it from a Psychology Professor at Indiana University:
                  http://www.indiana.edu/~intell/flynneffect.shtml [indiana.edu]

                  But congratulations on getting a +5 Informative for posting incorrect information. Maybe you should watch more Discovery Channel.

            • by dokc (1562391)

              Perhaps if you watched Discovery instead of MTV, you'd be aware of the Flynn Effect

              I don't watch any of them.
              Thanks for the information about Flynn Effect, it's quite interesting, but if it's really true (Don’t believe any statistics you don’t make up yourself) that would mean that the situation is even sadder - general population is more intelligent as before, but not using that intelligence (just like before).

              • by TheLink (130905)
                They may be more intelligent, but that does not mean they are better informed.

                The media industry gets more money giving people what they want rather than giving people what they "should" get. You want "mental junk food" all the time? Sure no problem. Even google has been known to change their search results so that each user gets more of what Google thinks the user would want.

                There are 24 hours in a day, you're not going to learn as much about the world if you spend most of it playing FarmVille (or Happy Fa
        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          How about my own little anecdote instead? i don't know about the other guy but I've watched relatives turn into zombies thanks to those damned reality shows, we are talking smart people just turned into lumps that breathe watching endless reality crap. i have to wonder if one dissected the signal you'd find some hidden message like on "They Live" with words like "Don't think" and "obey" popping on the screen. I know that the girls at the cableco always point me out when i come in because i don't have a TV,

    • by pablo_max (626328) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @03:08AM (#38593596)

      There are several online services which offer loads of pirated TV shows and even movies. For example, my wife uses a streaming program called funsion to watch HIMYM, Big Bang and other popular American TV shows.
      As of yesterday, those show are no longer available. This was also the case on the two other alternative services.
      Granted, one can use a VPN tunnel, but most people will not be willing to pay money for a VPN which is fast enough to stream.
      I do happen to pay for premium VPN services, but as I was last in China, it was impressively slow. Enough for real google results and such, but not enough for netflix.

    • by Urkki (668283)

      If the viewers can't find what they want on the tube, they'll get it somewhere else.

      -jcr

      Some of them will. Majority will just channel surf and watch the most bearable programmes they find.

    • by Serpents (1831432)
      And nothing of value was lost? Frankly, I'd love to see the TV stations where I live to kill 2/3 of the reality/talent shows and replace them with something worthwhile. When I was a kid, the national TV (2 channels at that time) had several science programs targeted at kids and teenagers. Now we have access several hundred national and private TV channels and not a single show which would try to explain how lasers work to a 10 year old but plenty of the "pew pew pew KABOOM!" variety...
    • If the viewers can't find what they want on the tube, they'll get it somewhere else.

      -jcr

      If Chinese Idol isn't produced, they will be hard pressed to find it. And no, American Idol will not be a suitable replacement - after all Americans aren't watching the original either. Every country wants their own asshole judges and overconfident, untalented contestants. And hardly anyone cares about the winners for that matter.

  • by Narcocide (102829) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @02:14AM (#38593366) Homepage

    If I had my own country, I would make reality TV illegal too.

  • by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @02:14AM (#38593370)

    But after being pestered by so many Big Brothers and other related horrors, it's very hard for me to frown upon the chinese here.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      it's also about keeping viewers on governmentally administered channels(by axing competing shows on less controlled channels, though one could argue that they're all pretty controlled since they can do that).

    • by siddesu (698447)

      This time around it doesn't look like a free speech issue, but more like a preparation for succession issue. The current leadership in China is already old (this is the Deng cohort, pres. Hu is already 70), and he seem to be getting China ready for a new generation of political leaders. When you do leadership change in this kind of regime, you do everything to ensure smooth succession to the people you chose.

      There was even an old Soviet joke about the perils of transition. If memory serves, Radio Yerevan

    • I quit watching TV altogether ages ago, too much commercials for shit I don't want and far too few things actually worth watching. I'll buy/download the things I want to watch and I'll watch when where & how I want.
      • by horza (87255)

        Back in UK for Christmas and I was shocked at how long the adverts last. Looking at ITV2 tonight, Oceans Twelve runs from 10pm to 12.30pm. IMDB tells me run time is 125 minutes. So 1/2hr, or 20%, of the film is adverts. Makes it impossible to enjoy a film.

        Phillip.

    • by jandersen (462034)

      Funny enough, my first thought was "if only they'd do that here". I have almost stopped watching tv, because there is almost no factual programs, and the ones there are, are mostly rehashes of old "nature themes" with added soundtrack.

      It would be really nice if they went for less "wow, awesome" and more insight and real knowledge.

  • Big whoop (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Osgeld (1900440) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @02:18AM (#38593382)

    just go without cable and save yourself 100 bucks a month

    • Re:Big whoop (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DanielRavenNest (107550) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @03:02AM (#38593578)

      I tried to do that last month, because I had sold my big screen TV, there being nothing but crap on basic cable any more. Instead Comcast made me a 6 month deal to pay less for internet, and still keep TV service, even though I have no way to watch it. My bill is $20 a month less, so I really don't care how they split it, but it's interesting how hard they tried to keep me on TV service. I wonder if they get paid by advertisers according to audience as measured by subscriptions? Then it doesn't actually matter if I don't watch.

      • by tsotha (720379)
        The cable company has to pay for some channels (They pay a lot for ESPN), for some no money changes hands (the legacy networks, I think), and some pay the cable company (HSN). So yeah, that's exactly what's happening. If you're on the lowest tier they make money by having you as a customer (neglecting sunk costs) even if you don't pay.
  • Thank you! (Score:2, Redundant)

    by DWMorse (1816016)
    Thank you, China, for the excessively entertaining action!
  • A country where stupid politicians don't try to learn dancing salsa on TV? Count me in!!!!
  • Irony (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ltap (1572175) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @02:37AM (#38593472) Homepage
    So Big Brother shut down Big Brother?
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      It's their nationalism streak.

      They must have felt the U.S. was making a parody of their government policy.

  • Ummmm.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    After watching cable TV in the US over the holidays, could I ask that they do the same thing to American TV?

    (Only partially tongue-in-cheek).

  • by Cabriel (803429) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @02:49AM (#38593518)

    Beside the obvious "OMGFreeSpeech" and "OMG1984" arguments, in the face of garbage programming like American Idol, Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, etc, what practical non-what-if arguments are there for this being a bad thing?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Intropy (2009018)

      Because being entertained makes people happy and being happy is better than not being happy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        But watching most of these programs makes people miserable. Watching all the glamor and riches makes the dreary of reality impact all the worse. Unlike movies that are obvious fantasy these lie that this could be real. They have zero educational value, they will never make people feel better. They are just a drug that sucks people's energy and turns them into brainless trash.

    • by Pecisk (688001)

      You can't make people better without making them their choices to be better.

      And by the way, bashing "American Idol" is getting old, it is high class performances. Yes, it's overcrowded with money and hype, and it's marketed mainly for teens, but lot of things are. For example those geekish cartoons you loved when you was ten.

  • I didn't realize that it is actually possible for a government to decide their people are having too much fun.

  • Vice Taxes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @03:05AM (#38593586) Homepage Journal

    We tax the snot out of cigarettes and booze because they aren't healthy for society... we've had a TV in every home for 50+ years now, and parents are exposing their children to TV from birth... if you can't restrict people's use of TV, you might as well remove the incentive to watch it by making it more informational/educational, rather than an "opiate of the masses".
     
    We ended up with the evening news in a response to a federal mandate that X% be used for reporting the news, how much better off would we have been if we'd restricted entertainment to Y% of the total broadcast time? How would society be if we limited mass entertainment? Would local entertainment like playhouses still be much more successful?

    • if you can't restrict people's use of TV, you might as well remove the incentive to watch it by making it more informational/educational, rather than an "opiate of the masses".

      Exactly, TV in the west is used for this:
      http://abstrusegoose.com/397 [abstrusegoose.com]

      By the way, it is interesting that you mention "opiate", are you aware of the use of opium in China in the beginning of the 20th century?

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        Who was selling it to them? Google "opium war". The Chinese were trying to outlaw western opiates then, too

    • by migla (1099771)

      I'm sure the leaders want TV to be an opiate and every other kind of drug-analogy to control the masses with. They probably feel the ratio of the opiate of entertainment was pushing the people in a suboptimal direction.

  • by donscarletti (569232) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @03:40AM (#38593750)
    In China, you watch CCTV (China Central TeleVision), in Soviet Britain, CCTV watches you!
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @03:42AM (#38593760) Homepage
    Heck, I can't even remember anyone watching fictional TV in that documentary.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @03:54AM (#38593816) Journal

    Someone in the CCP must have seen Jersey Shore, and decided to stop the trend before it's too late.

  • The last time I checked out the cable situation a few months ago, the U.S. has already scrubbed entertainment from broadcast and cable TV.

    I am not sure if this was a patriotic move on the part of Hollywood to build a nation of young people who enjoyed more sunshine, or something imposed upon them by government officials afraid of citizens enjoying themselves too greatly as it would seem China has encountered. Either way, the U.S. beat ya' to it China!

  • More news, more education, and endless pony marathons.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @04:09AM (#38593886) Homepage Journal

    The very fundamental ideals of Chinese society place family and the greater community at higher priority than the individual's wants or needs. I suspect the vast majority of the Chinese people actually don't mind this. Those that do can certainly access media from elsewhere in the world -- technology is wide spread in China.

    You really need to get the image of rice farms out of your heads.

  • Most people view this as a good thing, yet they some how don't think China will shape what people watch based around how they want to condition them. No sir, China is just out to cancel all forms of reality TV and badddd programing. They're going to show their kids Sesame street from now on too!
  • 'The rule, first announced in October, is targeted at what Chinese regulators have called "excessive entertainment and a trend toward low taste," to address the rise of talent shows, dating shows and other such programming

    I could not agree more.

    Disclaimer: I have a dislike for shows, i'll have me some non-fiction documentaries or fiction comedy instead.

  • It's a sad, sad day (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @06:31AM (#38594404)

    ...when you get better and more interesting TV programming in a communist country than in the free world.

    I weep for humanity.

  • by meburke (736645) on Thursday January 05, 2012 @08:04AM (#38594748)

    There are 'way too many entry points to this discussion. The mass hypnosis of TV and movies undermined Japan's post-war program for a stronger Japan, by "Americanizing" Japanese values. American "reality" TV fosters a view of stupid, immoral Americans, but it also shows the vast difference in wealth between the two nations. This must be a threat to Chinese Government-approved values and economics. Now, 2/3 of the people in Chines TV may be "out-of-work" in whatever way a government-subsidized "production" can exist.

    This puts one of China's leading-edge economic industries about where the United States was in 1921.

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