After years of appearing to lighten up, China’s Communist Party is clamping down on free expression. This week it ordered 34 major satellite television stations to limit themselves to two 90-minute entertainment shows a week, and to broadcast state-approved news daily, the New York Times reports. Government officials say they’re trying to guard against “excessive entertainment or vulgar tendencies.” One such vulgar tendency: reality show voting. Industry insiders are convinced a talent show was shut down recently because its text-in gimmick seemed too reminiscent of actual voting.
The party also intends to clamp down on China’s Twitter-esque “weibos,” or microblogging services, a growing source of uncensored news. Recently, for example, one exposed a Yunnan Province official’s sex orgy, complete with pictures, while another revealed a cover-up of a high-speed rail accident. Employees of the services say the government is pushing them to more stringently monitor and suppress unauthorized opinions. Authorities also may force users to register with their real names, making expressing dissent a riskier proposition.