Television in China is about to take either a great leap forward or a big step backward, depending on how you feel about reality TV. Shows inspired by the likes of American Idol are massive hits for satellite broadcasters in China but authorities are bringing in tough new regulations limiting broadcasters to buying the rights to just one such program per year—which can't be shown in prime time during the year the rights were bought, CNN reports. Regulators, who describe the imports as "vulgar" and "excessive," have ordered broadcasters to devote much more of prime time to educational and "morality-building" programs.
A Chinese political scientist says he suspects the new regulations are an attempt to stem the flow of viewers away from national broadcaster CCTV. "Local stations have more freedom to attract audiences with entertainment shows," he tells the AP. "And that takes away too many viewers from CCTV and they are afraid that no one will pay attention to the government's tune." But as many annoyed viewers have pointed out on social media, the move is much likelier to drive more viewers online than it is to boost CCTV audiences.