CCTV Anchor Faces ‘Serious’ Punishment for Mao Joke

At a private dinner party in April, star anchor sang a parody of a “model opera” song in which he mocked . After a cellphone video of his rendition went viral, censorship authorities ordered websites to remove the video and the news media to cease shining light on the story, and Bi was quickly suspended from CCTV. With little hint on Bi’s fate since, a state media outlet affiliated with the central graft regulator published a report on Sunday urging CCTV to treat Bi’s offense as a serious breach. The South China Morning Post’s Nectar Gan reports:

China Daily, a newspaper affiliated with the country’s top graft watchdog, said in a report on Sunday that Bi had “used ridicule to harm the image of the older generation of the Communist Party and the [late] state leader”.

“[Discipline inspectors at the] State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television … decided that it was not an ordinary violation of discipline. Instead, it is an act that seriously violated political discipline,” the report said.

“[The authorities] demanded the discipline inspection committee at CCTV to deal with the matter seriously and to educate the station to warn against [such behaviour].” [Source]

At the Wall Street Journal, Felicia Sonmez puts Bi’s case in the context of new media regulations aimed enforcing Party ideology in popular entertainment, and notes that Bi has received a mixture of support and criticism on Weibo:

The episode comes as China’s top media regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, is tightening control over the TV industry with a series of new regulations aimed at keeping presenters and content in line with “socialist core values.”

[…] While the Communist Party’s official verdict is that Mao was “70% right and 30% wrong,” authorities brook no public criticism of the leader, who historians say was responsible for the deaths of millions of people from famine during the Great Leap Forward and from political persecution during the Cultural Revolution.

Mr. Bi did not comment publicly on the developments Monday. But his verified Weibo microblog was inundated with reactions from Internet users, with many offering words of support and a few heaping condemnation on the host. […] [Source]

For more netizen commentary and a collection of political cartoons featuring Bi Fujian’s backfired joke, see prior CDT coverage.