4/16/2006-- The Chinese government has issued strict new rules concerning television news coverage and drama programs. The Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) released its new requirements this week, which have only recently come to light.

Under the new rules:

  • TV news stations cannot use foreign satellite footage and can only rely on reports provided by the state-run China Central Television and China Radio International.

  • Historical soap operas involving political, military and religious themes must get official script approval.

  • Producers of TV dramas must send in monthly reports about their programs.

Growing competition in the news market has led many broadcasters to use foreign news services, such as Reuters or the Associated Press, or satellite broadcasters. "Recently, some foreign news agencies and media have used a variety of methods to sell international news material to domestic local TV stations, which have clear political intentions," SARFT said in the notice, quoted by Xinhua news service.

The notice called for greater “political and propaganda discipline” in the news and drama sectors. The move comes following the Communist Party’s crack down on newspapers and magazines in 2005. Last year, the government imposed a freeze on foreign investment in media ventures, from magazines to television stations.

The future of the Chinese edition of Rolling Stone magazine was put into question in March after authorities cancelled the agreement between the American-based magazine and its Chinese partner.  Foreign magazines require a local partner in order to get a license to publish. The Chinese editor of Rolling Stone said he still plans to publish a second issue due out some time in April.

(Contributed by CBC Arts)