TV dramas replaced by propaganda

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 March, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 March, 2001, 12:00am

Imported and foreign-funded television dramas and movies, as well as period costume dramas, will have to make way for propaganda as the Chinese Communist Party celebrates its 80th anniversary this summer.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television called a special meeting earlier this year to brief TV networks about a propaganda campaign in summer.

The campaign will be part of celebrations for the party's anniversary on July 1, according to the daily Beijing Entertainment News.

Broadcasters were told to air a series of domestically made TV dramas in June and July with themes praising the greatness of the Communist Party, socialism and the open-door policy - the so-called 'Three Greatnesses'.

Beijing sources said programmes such as popular American drama E.R. and Hong Kong-produced Condor Hero, a costume drama based on Louis Cha's popular martial arts novel, would probably have to make way for the celebration.

All TV channels are expected to be filled with propaganda for the whole of July.

A government official told the newspaper that the administration had issued orders to TV networks that dramas broadcast during the celebration period should reflect the 'reality' of contemporary China. But he conceded that costume or foreign-funded dramas might be given special permission to air if they fitted the theme of praising the 'Three Greatnesses'.

It is common for media censors to order TV networks to reduce the number of popular dramas during politically sensitive periods such as the anniversary of the People's Republic of China on October 1.

But observers said it was rare that TV networks were given orders to stop airing dramas for a whole month.

The authorities would also step up censorship of TV dramas this year, the report said. More control would be exerted over pornographic, violent and superstitious dramas.

Beijing sources said the Government was particularly peeved about historical dramas showing morally upright figures having extra-marital affairs.

It is believed Beijing is eager to take the opportunity of the party's 80th anniversary to consolidate communist rule and pave the way for next year's major leadership reshuffle at the 16th Communist Party Congress.