CCTV Cancels a Talk Show and Shifts its Focus Toward Entertainment

The CCTV talk show, Tell It Like It Is (实话实说), has been cancelled, reportedly due to low ratings. However, the show’s demise may be better explained by CCTV’s shift towards entertainment programming. Danwei’s Joel Martinsen translates commentary from Chinese blogger Hecaitou:

What Cui Yongyuan [first host of Tell It Like It Is] started, He Jing [second host of Tell It Like It Is] has brought to a close. Cui did not realize at the time that the program would become so well-known — CCTV has so many programs. He Jing did not sense the way the wind was blowing, and thus a program that lucked into its position lucked out of it because its value was entirely different to different people. Yet the big picture is quite clear: CCTV is revamping this year, collecting all so-called “prime-time muscle” (黄金强档) onto CCTV-1, including Zhu Jun’s Art Life. Dissecting this trifling program reveals the strategy behind this.

Art Life is a packaged entertainment program that is neither art nor life. It is a televised version of Woman Friend magazine: the biggest draw for the audience is not to appreciate artistic quality or life stories, but to consume the tears of entertainers. If China permitted betting exchanges, then each episode would probably pull in several hundred million in speculations on the precise minute the entertainer’s tears would begin to flow. To pluck up its spirits in the face of new media’s weakening effect, the station ultimately chose to chase entertainment, because no one would watch otherwise. Axing a pure talk show like To Tell The Truth, one that is seriously deficient amusement-wise, is nothing is strange at all.

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