China Curbs ‘Vulgar’ Reality TV Show

The New York Times looks at the crackdown on China’s most popular dating show:

China’s television programmers are not far behind their Western counterparts in tapping demand for salacious entertainment. But that tends to conflict, sooner or later, with official notions of propriety and taste in China, which are a lot further behind.

“Traditionally for the government, there are several functions of the television industry,” said Ouyang Hongsheng, a media professor at Sichuan University. “Entertainment is last.”

Although all television stations are still state-owned, stations owned by provincial governments now compete with one another for ratings, national cable distribution and advertising revenue. The profits from these stations go back to local agencies, so provincial-level officials often think more about padding their budgets than enforcing decorum in the public media.

Still, central government propaganda officials reserve the right to intervene. And the minders in Beijing have no financial stake in the shows.

Since its debut in January, “If You Are the One” has been at the center of the storm. Each episode is like a game, as 24 women are presented with a parade of eligible bachelors. The men are subjected to abrasive questioning and ego-deflating sound effects of rejection. The entire process, 30 minutes in taping, is edited down to about 10 minutes on screen. The result is what might happen if the “The Bachelor” and “The Gong Show” produced an offspring with attention-deficit disorder.


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