当前位置: Language Tips> 新闻播报

Good media entertains, informs and educates

中国日报网 2012-08-30 13:29



Get Flash Player

Many people have observed that social media in China are having a profound impact on them and that impact is increasingly extending to the government. Recent TV drama guidelines that seemingly were issued by the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) at the beginning of the month, and then denied a week and a million mostly negative micro blog postings later, is a recent example.

I'd like to believe that the guidelines were a trial balloon put up by SARFT that was shot down by public opinion. The Internet is the perfect information tool. Previously, it was not always easy to discern public opinion. Now, people's attitudes are available for all to see and policymakers can act accordingly.

The now denied guidance from SARFT to TV stations sought to eliminate "vulgar" and "overly entertaining" material from China's airwaves. These included banning Chinese remakes of foreign shows. They also sought to reduce "low taste" references to violence, organized crime, family conflict and even humor in historical dramas.

SARFT certainly had a lofty goal in mind while imposing an earlier ad ban last year. An SARFT representative said the agency took the action then, so as to fully utilize the TV networks to build a public cultural service system, raise the quality of public cultural services and guarantee the basic cultural rights of the people.

In their laudable quest to make Chinese TV more moral, educational and pro-social, this time, as most weibo or micro blog postings pointed out, they would have inadvertently made TV more boring and even contributed to affecting domestic consumer demand for Chinese goods and services.

From my experience in American TV, when important pro-social subjects were embedded in a continuing storyline in a family drama full of the conflict and angst that mirror everyday life, it was really effective. Why? Because people could receive the information, almost unconsciously, on an emotional, as well as an intellectual, level. Thankfully, SARFT decided not to remove this important tool.

China isn't the first or the last country to grapple with these issues. Americans, for example, have gone through some similar cultural soul-searching. By law, the US broadcast media is required to operate in the public interest. Here you'd call it "serve the people".

Newton Minow, appointed by then US president John F. Kennedy as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, the US version of SARFT, delivered a speech to a stunned media industry calling television "a vast wasteland" and demanding reforms. That was more than 50 years ago.

Minow also famously said that what's in the public interest is not necessarily what interests the public. And this is one of the places that China needs to pay attention. Good TV has to simultaneously entertain, educate and inform. This is no mean feat and certainly one rarely attained anywhere.

There is nothing wrong with buying the formats of successful TV series from other countries. As long as the intellectual property is bought and not stolen, there is no issue.

I can't imagine how the now-defunct SARFT regulations would have helped China sell its original programs to the world. The likelihood of "Created in China" has been spared yet another blow.

As many weibo postings concluded, the SARFT requirements would have driven people from TV to the Internet and perhaps even to nowhere electronic. Internet TV is growing well but does not have the audience that conventional TV has.

Since advertising is one of the engines driving the domestic Chinese economy, if SARFT had reduced the number of TV viewers, especially the highly sought after younger demographic, there would have been two casualties.

First, the broadcast media would have been harmed because fewer viewers, and fewer desirable viewers in particular, would have resulted in less revenue for the channels. Second, and more importantly, there would have been fewer people receiving important information about goods and services they can purchase and that would have had a knock-on effect, lowering domestic consumption at the very time that the government seeks to increase it.

SARFT is right in trying to enhance the quality of Chinese TV programs. It is not in trying to do it in a way that would have stifled creativity. It is to be commended for withdrawing the ill-considered guidelines.

The author and broadcastor is a senior adviser to Tsinghua University and former director and vice-president of ABC Television in New York.



















关于我们 | 联系方式 | 招聘信息

Copyright by chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved. None of this material may be used for any commercial or public use. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. 版权声明:本网站所刊登的中国日报网英语点津内容,版权属中国日报网所有,未经协议授权,禁止下载使用。 欢迎愿意与本网站合作的单位或个人与我们联系。



Email: languagetips@chinadaily.com.cn