China suspends popular talent show for "exceeding time limits"

BEIJING Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:04am EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China has ordered a popular television talent show off the air for a year after it exceeded broadcasting time limits, replacing it with programs that "promote moral ethics" such as public safety and housework tips, state media said on Monday.

Episodes of talent show Super Girl, akin to American Idol or the X Factor, were supposed only to run for a maximum of 90 minutes, according to rules set in 2007, but sometimes exceeded the limit, the China Daily reported.

Hunan Satellite Television, which produces Super Girl, has agreed to follow the broadcast regulator's ruling to remove the show and replace it with public service programing, the newspaper quoted deputy editor-in-chief Li Hao as saying.

"Instead, the channel will air programs that promote moral ethics and public safety and provide practical information for house work," Li said.

"I believe the reason that forced the administration to 'regulate' this program is that some television hosts in the program made inappropriate comments and some did not dress properly," Jin Yong of China Communication University, told the paper.

"The style might have offended some older viewers."

China routinely censors anything it considers politically sensitive or offensive, from songs to films, in contrast to the stirring patriotism fare it promotes on mainstream stations, though widespread piracy means bans are often easy to skirt via bootlegged DVDs or on the Internet.

Super Boy, another singing contest, was ordered in 2007 to show only "healthy and ethically inspiring songs", avoid "gossip" and not show "bad taste" scenes of screaming fans or tearful losing contestants, the China Daily said.

In a statement on its website (www.sarft.gov.cn), the regulator said it had also suspended a television station in northern China for showing programs which showed disrespect toward an elderly parent and magnified family conflict.

(Reporting by Sabrina Mao and Ben Blanchard)

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