China’s TV ‘police’ pull plug on commercials during period dramas

JISHOU, HUNAN — China’s TV networks are saturated with historical dramas, with settings ranging from the Tang Dynasty to the Japanese Occupation and the Communist Revolution. They are surprisingly popular among viewers, but, as in the West, the Internet (free movies!) beckons to those tired of the same old same old. So, China’s version of the FCC has mandated that, beginning Jan. 1, costume dramas will no longer be interrupted by commercials, which are often as dully repetitive as the shows they sponsor. The hope, apparently, is that viewers will sit glued to their sets and not wander away to watch Hong Kong and Korean soapies, Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, or, worse yet, read the news about China from abroad. The ban on commercials follows another directive a few months ago to eliminate American Idol-like talent contests like Super Girl and Super Boy, which have been much more popular than the state-approved “ain’t we great?” period pieces. [Speaking of the Super Boy show, one of my juniors was a contestant last year, but was eliminated finally. If you want to check his singing out, here’s a link of him learning he advanced to the next round and singing, “Any Man ...

Television crew weirdness 3

JISHOU, HUNAN — TV people are the same all over. They are just plain weird. At Sunday’s Engish Corner, James, one of the older participants, told me that the provincial TV network, Xiangxi TV, was planning a Christmas program. They wanted to invite me to talk about US Christmas customs. James said he was also going to ask Michael, an American who teaches at No. 1 Middle School, to participate as well. Toward the end of the evening’s meeting, James approached me again and said that the TV people wanted to meet us right away. So, we grabbed a taxi to a tea room at a local hotel near the railway station. With us was Shelldy (庞肖狄 Pang XiaoDi), a junior music major who runs English Corner and hosts the daily campus radio broadcasts in English. She was to be my interpreter. Awkward moment #1: I was the only person there with no command of Chinese. Meanwhile, the TV people had no command of English. So, Shelldy, my translator, was kept very busy. The TV people (James’ sister, two camera guys and the hostess of a weekend features program) were planning to take us to Dehang to talk about Christmas. ...
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