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China axes TV entertainment shows

BEIJING - A recently implemented rule has effectively curbed the "excessive entertainment" trend as two-thirds of the entertainment programs on China’s 34 satellite channels have been cut, according to the country’s top broadcasting watchdog.

The total number of entertainment shows airing during primetime every week has been reduced to 38 from 126 at the end of 2011, marking a 69 percent plunge as the new rule came into effect on Jan 1, said a statement issued Tuesday by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

According to an SARFT directive last October, each of the country’s satellite channels would be limited to broadcasting two entertainment programs each week and a maximum of 90 minutes of content defined as entertainment every day during primetime - 7:30 pm to 10 pm.

The directive also required channels to broadcast at least two hours of news programming between 6 am and midnight. Between 6 pm and 11:30 pm, they must each broadcast at least two 30-minute news programs.

The restricted programs on the SARFT list include dating shows, talent contests, talk shows as well as emotional stories that were deemed "excessive entertainment" and of "low taste."

However, popular dating shows like "If You Are the One", produced by Jiangsu Satellite TV, and soap operas, such as "Li Yuan Chun", presented by Henan Satellite TV, will still be aired during weekend primetime hours, according to the statement.

It said that the satellite channels have started to broadcast programs that promote traditional virtues and socialist core values.

The newly-added programs among the satellites’ revised broadcasting schedules are documentaries as well as cultural and educational programs, it added.

The SARFT believes that the move to cut entertainment programming is crucial in improving cultural services for the public by offering high quality programming.