UPDATE 8/14: SARFT officials now deny this story and say these reports were just a baseless rumor.
Our friends at SARFT, China’s film and TV censorship board, are at it again. Having banned internet celebrities from television earlier this year (along with a bunch of other stuff), has now moved on to banning web games and novels from the tube. In a list of six new regulations for Chinese television, SARFT announced recently that adaptations of web novels and web games would no longer be allowed on television.
The new restrictions may hit Hunan’s popular TV station, Hunan Satellite, the hardest as it is currently broadcasting a show that has been adapted from a popular web game. It’s not clear whether or not that show — Xuanyuan Sword — will be canceled as a result of the regulations; when a Beijing News reporter asked a SARFT representative about the show’s fate, SARFT replied with the rather cryptic: “There is a process for everything; the same is true for management [of television].”
Web gaming is obviously quite popular in China, but readers may not be aware that internet novels — often serialized with chapters coming out at regular intervals — attract huge readerships in China. The biggest internet novelists may have readerships as large as, or even larger than, their offline counterparts.
Other new restrictions to Chinese TV that SARFT announced along with its ban on web game adaptations and web novel shows:
- No remakes of foreign TV shows
- Dramas about the revolution (i.e. the Chinese Civil War) must make it very clear who the good guys and villains are. (In other words, make it very clear that the Nationalists are bad and the Communists are good).
- Business dramas must be careful about the values they’re promoting
- Historical costume dramas can’t stretch the history for comedic purposes
- No “limitless” magnification of conflicts within families (whatever that means)
Chinese TV is so much fun these days; I can’t imagine why viewers are moving to streaming online video in droves. Give SARFT another few years and the only things permitted on TV will be the CCTV Evening News and footage of ethnic minorities dancing and singing happy songs about the Communist Party.