A show about fathers spending time with their children seems like the kind of wholesome family entertainment that regulators had in mind when they recently demanded broadcasters adhere to “correct political and aesthetic standards,”
Instead, the hammer has come down hard on the popular Hunan Television series “Dad, Where Are We Going?” after the reality show was deemed to have glorified celebrities and used children as performers, something that regulators say might corrupt them.
Hunan TV has been further criticized by the provincial party committee for lacking “ideological understanding.” The station has traditionally been one of China’s most innovative or, more importantly, popular networks. It was number two, behind CCTV-1 for years, then was briefly overtaken by Jiangsu TV (of “If You Are The One” fame), before shooting to first place in 2012.
Being popular can be a problem in China, where the government prefers to be the loudest voice in the room—the committee said that Hunan TV had “deviated” too far from its role as a “mouthpiece” by focusing on entertainment and ratings.
The scolding comes ahead of the 19th Party Congress in October. Media experts predict that regulators will be increasingly flexing their muscles to demonstrate commitment to Communist Party values ahead of the meeting.
Hunan TV’s screening of the state-sanctioned anti-corruption show “In the Name of the People” to huge audience figures does not appear to have put them in the good graces of regulators—in fact, it might even have put them in the crosshairs. As The Economist notes, propaganda can be a minefield and “the Party already seems to be regretting its success…blocking comments online about ‘In the Name of the People,’ and making sure it is not promoted on the front pages of websites that host it. Tellingly, censors have delayed release of one of the other anti-corruption shows.”
Time, presumably, for some more shows about upright, honest officials doing everyday work—and not spending too much time with their kids.
Cover image from Mtime