Undeterred by widespread mockery abroad of guidelines discouraging time travel dramas, Chinese officials are looking for other ways of promoting a more wholesome TV diet as the number of viewers watching entertainment shows reaches a worrying 10.1%. China Daily describes the malaise:
Lei Jianjun, associate professor at the School of Journalism and Communication in Tsinghua University, said TV channels rush to produce shows offering little beyond entertainment because their advertisement revenue is directly tied to the number of people who tune in. Such shows, he explained, tend to attract the largest audiences.
In addition, some local TV stations have found that popularity and large profits can result from just a few well-watched entertainment shows. A dating show called If You Are the One, for instance, prompted many people last year to switch to Jiangsu satellite TV, one of the most watched TV channels in China.
That show joined Happy Camp, a 14-year-old weekly variety show on Hunan satellite TV, and the 2010 Spring Festival Gala, broadcast by China Central Television, to become the most watched entertainment programs in 2010, according to the report by CSM Media Research.
If You Are the One was popular enough last year to prompt various other TV channels to air their own dating shows in an attempt at attracting larger audiences and more advertisers.
Despite their success, the matchmaking programs have become the subject of much debate in China.
Some contestants were heavily criticized for what certain viewers perceived to be blatant materialism and money worship. Ma Nuo, a woman contestant on If You Are the One, became a household name last year after she had turned downed a jobless bachelor in the show and explained her refusal by saying she “would rather cry in a BMW (than smile on a bike)”.
See also: a Time article from last year on ‘If You Are the One’ and its imitators.