China’s media watchdog and censorship bureau announced Wednesday that reality television shows airing in the country will be held to new standards and must “uphold socialist core values” and “repel vulgarity, vanity and money worship.” The regulations imposed on reality TV shows were announced following the growing popularity of reality television among Chinese.
Reality television competition shows have become the rage in China lately, amassing huge viewership, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said in a memo Wednesday, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency. However, some of the shows have been sending messages that go against socialist tenets with a focus on individual profits or “agitating extravagance and luxurious lifestyles,” the department circular said, going so far as to call some of the programing “depraved.”
“An undesirable tendency of excessive entertainment and low taste should be halted, giving way to healthy socialist values including honesty, integrity and resilience,” SARFT said. “The general tone of reality shows should be positive and inspiring, telling right from wrong, and providing constructive solutions to social problems.”
Popular reality TV shows in China currently include competition shows, like "Voice of China," which is a spinoff of the NBC singing competition "The Voice" in the U.S., as well as original shows called "Running Man" and "Where Are We Going, Dad?" In "Running Man," contestants compete alongside presenters to complete a series of physical challenges and races, where as in "Where Are We Going, Dad?" celebrity families take on the challenge of going camping.
The government body did not mention specific shows that were good or bad examples of acceptable reality television, but they did add that China should not take inspiration from foreign reality shows from Korea or the United States.
A number of reality television shows airing in the United States likely do not meet the Chinese Communist Party’s standards; for instance, shows entitled "Bad Girls Club" and "Rich Kids of Beverly Hills" do not seem to jibe with the message of “socialist values.”