No sex, drugs, witches or gays: China bans ‘morally hazardous’ content from TV
What do teenage romance, extra-marital affairs, reincarnation and homosexuality have in common? They’ve all been banned from Chinese television dramas.
Crime shows that reveal police strategies and tactics have also been banned so that criminals can’t use the information to ‘up their game’.
The government’s ‘General Principle of Television Drama Production Content’, released in December, serves as a “professional guideline” for industry experts, according to Li Jingsheng, chief of television drama under the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
It requires producers to actively produce content advocated by the administration and stay away from prohibited content.
Such prohibited content includes storylines seen as promoting superstitions, like spiritual procession, reincarnation and witchcraft.
It also includes content deemed as promoting promiscuity, or as pornographic or that displays “abnormal sexual relationships or sexual behaviour” such as homosexuality.
TV shows about unhealthy marriages, depicting extra-marital affairs or one night stands, should not be aired on television.
Also banned is content seen as morally hazardous to teenagers, such as depictions of teen romances, smoking, drinking alcohol or fighting.
Last month, Beijing tightened its muzzle on mainland China’s internet after a senior media content watchdog official demanded all online programmes be censored as strictly as traditional television programmes.
The move comes amid widespread audience dissatisfaction at the removal or suspension of popular shows on Chinese video streaming sites, pending the approval of the media regulator.
Addiction, an online drama depicting gay love – a taboo subject for state media entertainment programmes – was taken offline last week just days after other programmes, including Go Princess Go, were stopped because of excessive sex, violence and controversial content.
Many younger mainlanders prefer to watch internet television programmes rather than the state-run channels such as China Central Television, which carry lots of propaganda.