China Suspends Popular Talent Show for "Exceeding Time Limits"

The talent show Super Girl has been forced off the air for allegedly exceeding maximum time limits, but the move may indicate a tightening of control over programming that promotes content the government deems offensive. From Reuters:

Episodes of talent show Super Girl, akin to American Idol or the X Factor, were supposed only to run for a maximum of 90 minutes, according to rules set in 2007, but sometimes exceeded the limit, the China Daily reported.

Hunan Satellite Television, which produces Super Girl, has agreed to follow the broadcast regulator’s ruling to remove the show and replace it with public service programing, the newspaper quoted deputy editor-in-chief Li Hao as saying.

“Instead, the channel will air programs that promote moral ethics and public safety and provide practical information for house work,” Li said.

“I believe the reason that forced the administration to ‘regulate’ this program is that some television hosts in the program made inappropriate comments and some did not dress properly,” Jin Yong of China Communication University, told the paper.

“The style might have offended some older viewers.”

This is not the first time officials have cracked down on talent competitions on TV. Voting by cell phone was outlawed for Super Girl-style programs in 2007. The New York Times looks at other possible reasons the show was banned:

For the legions of devotees who have been following the season — previous finales have drawn upwards of 400 million viewers — the suspension has produced shock and heartache. “I will never be happy again!” wailed a fan on Weibo, China’s most popular microblog service. “Maybe we need another revolution,” screamed another.

But for those prone to more sober thoughts, the ban issued by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television is a bracing reminder of the heavy hand that guides popular culture in China.

On the same day it suspended “Super Girl,” the authorities imposed a one-month suspension on a channel in northern Hebei Province after one of its talk shows featured a son berating his father. The program, regulators said, “magnified distorted ethics and moral values” and “caused extremely negative social effects.”

Earlier this year the agency raised hackles in the domestic entertainment industry by issuing a blanket prohibition on narratives that rely on time travel.

Although government officials did not elaborate on the reasons behind the cancellation of “Super Girl,” television executives and cultural critics suggested the ruling Communist Party was unnerved by the runaway success of the show, whose producers have created a string of American-style reality shows that have proven more popular than the turgid fare of the state-run broadcaster CCTV.