Hunan TV slammed for chasing ratings

Source: Sup China (9/1/17)
Hunan TV slammed for chasing ratings
By Jiayun Feng

“Too many Korean pop stars are featured in shows produced by Hunan TV. It’s time for it to make some changes!”

“Since when did ‘mouthpiece of the Party’ (党的喉舌 dǎngdehóushé) become a good word?”

These two comments demonstrate how public opinion differed (in Chinese) on the rectification notice (in Chinese) released by the Communist Party’s Hunan provincial committee after an inspection of Hunan Television from February to April this year. In the notice, Hunan TV, the provincial satellite TV station, is criticized for lacking a sense of political responsibility, an excessive focus on high ratings, and spending too little effort on Party construction.

“For a long time, some leaders in Hunan TV deeply believed that ‘Entertainment is the foundation of a television station’ [娱乐立台 yúlèlìtái], and that ‘High ratings are the only criteria on whether a television station is successful or not’ [以收视率论英雄 yǐ shōushìlǜ lùn yīngxióng],” the notice says. “Some channels have been swinging between social benefits and economic benefits. They have failed to fulfill the mission of being a mouthpiece of the Party.” The notice also asserts that on the surface, the problem with Hunan TV seems to be its loose control of several channels and shows, but in fact it reflects the lack of political sensitivity among the TV Party committee.

The notice pointed out several TV shows that it said led “wrong directions of public opinions.” Where Are We Going, Dad? 爸爸去哪儿, a popular TV reality show that was cancelled due to a government order after four seasons, is blamed for excessive promotion of the children of celebrities. The notice also admonishes a local news program for covering too much negative news and calls for it to increase positive publicity. It also criticizes some other shows for female guests showing too much skin or for advertising fake products.

Launched in 1997, Hunan Television is currently China’s second-most-watched channel, the first being CCTV-1, which is owned by China Central Television. By producing a number of hit TV shows such as Happy Camp 快乐大本营, Super Girl 超级女声, and Where Are We Going, Dad? 爸爸去哪儿, Hunan Television reaped the early benefits of China’s TV industry boom and since then has continued to dominate the Chinese TV scene.

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