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China’s latest enemy: child stars

Crackdown on popular reality shows featuring stars’ children, amid concerns over the growth of celebrity culture

 Actors from the film Dad, Where Are We Going? pose for publicity shots. The movie was adapted from the popular TV reality show, one of those under fire for featuring children. Photograph: AP

The ban by the government’s media regulator also covers appearances by the stars’ children on chatshows and reports about them on entertainment programmes, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

Reality shows featuring attractive stars and their well-dressed, fashionably coiffed and often somewhat precocious children travelling or performing tasks together have grown extremely popular with Chinese viewers.

However, apparently concerned with the growth of celebrity culture, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television ordered in July that producers of the dozens of reality shows on satellite channels cut back on appearances by minors and curtail elements of the shows seen as attempting to make them stars in their own right.

On Monday, Xinhua cited the administration’s latest order: “Reality shows should pay attention to strengthening protection over minors and endeavour to reduce the participation of minors.”

It said reality show producers had been ordered to drop the “mistaken notion” that they should use well-known entertainers to attract viewers. “Do not permit shows to become venues for displaying fame and wealth,” the order quoted by Xinhua said.

An employee at Hunan Satellite, whose Dad Where Are We Going? is one of the biggest hits in the “celebrities and their children” genre, said the station was aware of the administration’s order. She said a decision had not yet been made on whether to order another season of the show.

Chinese media regulators want to rein in programmes which they see as overly materialistic or encouraging the worship of celebrities who might compete with role models promoted by the ruling Communist party.

Viewers have increasingly turned to programming on more independent satellite television stations and the internet, where regulators have sought to impose stronger control over live streaming programmes usually featuring young women chatting, playing video games or simply going about their everyday tasks.


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