January 4, 2012 / 1:42 PM / in 6 years

China claims success in curbing racy entertainment

BEIJING (Reuters) - A campaign to curb “excessive entertainment” by slashing the number of racy programs on Chinese satellite television channels has been successful, state media reported, after President Hu Jintao warned Western culture was out to attack China.

The broadcast regulator ordered the two-thirds cutback in October, taking particular aim at dating and talent shows, programs featuring “emotional stories” and those of “low taste.”

As of the end of last year, satellite channels had begun showing programs that “promote traditional virtues and socialist core value,” the official Xinhua news agency said late on Tuesday, citing a statement from the regulator.

The regulator “believes that the move to cut entertainment programming is crucial in improving cultural services for the public by offering high quality programming,” Xinhua added.

The government has long struggled to promote what it believes is a healthy cultural environment, in contrast to more brash television shows and movies from Hong Kong, Taiwan and the west which circulate widely online and via pirated DVDs.

In the latest issue of the ruling Communist Party’s top theoretical journal, “Qiushi,” which means “Seeking Truth,” President Hu warned that the country must promote its own culture over “westernization” promoted by hostile forces.

“We must clearly be aware that international enemy forces are stepping up their strategic plots to westernize and split our country,” he wrote.

“The fields of thought and culture are important sectors they are using for this long-term infiltration. We must clearly recognize the seriousness and difficulty of this struggle, sound the alarm bell ... and take effective measures to deal with it.”

Hu did not elaborate on who these hostile groups might be, or how exactly they were plotting against China, whose own attempts to promote the “soft power” of Chinese culture overseas have floundered.

China routinely censors anything it considers politically sensitive or offensive, from songs to films, and pumps out a steady diet of patriotic fare via state broadcasters which an increasingly cosmopolitan and wired youth find dull.

Some popular U.S. television shows have huge fan bases in China despite having never been shown on Chinese stations, thanks to the internet and pirated DVDs.

Popular Chinese shows have to tread very carefully.

Last year, the regulator said it would suspend a television station in northern China for showing programs which showed disrespect towards an elderly parent and magnified family conflict.

Super Boy, a singing contest akin to American Idol or the X Factor, was ordered in 2007 to show only “healthy and ethically inspiring songs,” avoid “gossip” and not show “bad taste” scenes of screaming fans or tearful losing contestants.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel

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