Minitrue Diary, February 8, 2020: Lantern Festival Programming

CDT has recently acquired and verified a collection of propaganda directives issued by central Party authorities to state media at the beginning of this year. These directives were issued on an almost daily basis in early 2020, and we will be posting them over the coming weeks. The following three directives were released on February 8, 2020.

Work information: special programs for the 2020 Lantern Festival will be broadcast tonight at around 8 o’clock in channels 1, 3, and 4. In addition, the broadcast timing may vary depending on the duration of live broadcasts. Do not spread the above work information online, or announce it in advance without further instruction. (February 8, 2020) [Chinese]

Reminder: special Lantern Festival programming should receive low-key and cautious handling. There is no need for prominent promotion, normal dissemination will suffice. (February 8, 2020) [Chinese]

Please withdraw any promotional page layouts for special Lantern Festival programming. (February 8, 2020) [Chinese]

This year’s Lantern Festival—traditionally the end of the two-week annual Spring Festival national holiday period—came this year as Beijing was working hard to contain both the coronavirus outbreak and the media narrative surrounding it. The previous day’s censorship orders included an order to cancel promotion of Lantern Festival special programming, and earlier directives included orders to prevent commentary about the holiday period’s extension due to the epidemic.

Ahead of the January 24 Spring Festival Gala, one of China’s most viewed (and ridiculed) programs on state television, censors ordered a positive but somber event. On January 26 censors ordered the tone of coverage of the gala to also be reverent, and for "overly upbeat content" to be cut back more generally.

真Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth since 2011..

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