“Super Girl,” a Chinese talent show similar to “American Idol,” will not return to the airwaves in 2012 despite high ratings and popularity. The reason for the cancelation depends on who you ask.
China Daily reports that the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) told Hunan Satellite Television that the show violated a cap on screen time. The premiere in July lasted 182 minutes, while SARFT caps shows at 90.
“Instead, the channel will air programs that promote moral ethics and public safety and provide practical information for housework,” Li Hao, spokesperson for the channel, told China Daily.
Others say censorship is the real reason for the show’s cancelation.
“Super Girl,” which premiere in 2004, allowed viewers to vote for their favorite singer through text messages and phone polls. Kathrin Hill of the Financial Times reports that this “Western-style” of voting was seen as “subversive” by some officials.
The 2005 season finale was watched by 400 million, and third runner-up Jane Zhang was later featured on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.” The show’s huge popularity attracted criticism.
Liu Zhongde, an official with the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, told Danwei.com in 2006 that the show was “poison for the youth”:
Take a look at the youth who are following the ‘Super Girls’ now. See what state of mind they are in, what direction they are headed. Take a look at how the audiences are watching this program, and you'll find that amid unthinking laughter people have been corrupted. The cultural departments have a responsibility to prevent this corruption; they must strengthen their administration of this sort of program.
Zhongde recommended that the government not allow the show “to exist.” The following year, voting by text was banned and the show was bumped from prime time, the Guardian reports.
The show’s cancelation is not surprising when one considers China’s recent efforts to censor more forms of media. In May, Ouyang Changlin, Communist party secretary for the Hunan Broadcasting System, told the Financial Times that the system would be censoring more shows.
Yin Hong, a journalism professor at Tsinghua University, told the Telegraph that “SARFT has been planning a new attempt at cleaning up television for the past five months.”