Beginning in February, the Chinese government will allow only shows it deems "inspiring" to air on domestic airwaves. The State Administration of Radio Film and Television is enacting the mandate to "promote national harmony" before an important Communist Party meeting, according to the English-language Shanghai Daily.
"The country's...TV stations should only screen ethically inspiring TV series during primetime," a SARFT executive told the Daily. "This year will be a special year for all TV programmes to create a good environment and conditions."
The move has been set up to ensure a smooth run-up to the 17th Party Congress, an important Communist Party convention that takes place every five years in Beijing.
The 48 Chinese television channels are owned by the state, but as the Chinese culture has opened up many broadcasters have aired Western shows. Now, all shows will be scrutinized by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party Central Committee and approved by state media administration before they are allowed to air.
The government had already banned imported cartoons such as The Simpsons from airing on primetime TV, and now they are expected to levy fines on stations that air primetime shows featuring criminal activities, guns, and extramarital affairs. The Chinese government also is cracking down on reality shows, which it deems as "vulgar."
Chinese media analysts say the move will cause stations to lose money. Viewers, however, have taken to Internet message boards complaining there will be nothing to watch.
"Let's quit watching TV. Surfing the Web is more fun," said one poster.