Chinese television is about to get a whole lot more patriotic, after an official directive ordered producers to ramp up the praise of the ruling Communist Party. With just over a month to go until a gathering of party bigwigs that is expected to confirm President Xi Jinping as national leader for another five years, propaganda chiefs are pulling out all the stops to make sure the public feels the fervour. Primetime TV programmes should “sing the praises of the (Communist Party), the motherland, the people and our heroes”, intoned a new 14-part policy issued this week. Dramas should “use core socialist values as their guide, with a focus on major revolutionary and historical themes”. Ratings-chasing populist pabulum is banned; in its place should be “well thought-out, exquisitely artful and exceptionally well-made television dramas enriching the spiritual and cultural life of the masses”.
The edict is the latest effort by China’s heavy-handed propagandists to control the message in an increasingly boisterous media. Previous attempts have included a clunky rap video protesting against a missile defence system in South Korea, as well as a series of saccharine “bedtime stories” in which an American man detailed China’s multi-billion dollar infrastructure plans to his rapt young child.
Censors last week berated major network Hunan TV for following a “ratings is king” philosophy and placing “entertainment” before “ideological understanding”. Its programme “Where Are We Going, Dad?”, which chronicled the travels of celebrity fathers and their children, was yanked from the air after being deemed not “conducive to young people’s healthy growth.”
In June, China told online video makers to eliminate programmes that “damage national image” and “derogate revolutionary leaders”. Authorities have also shut down streaming services and celebrity gossip blogs that they said were “catering to the public’s vulgar taste”.