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SARFT bans media hype on celebrity scandals
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After a nationwide ban on websites broadcasting unlicensed content last month, the country has made another sweeping effort towards cleaning up the media and society, this time by banning the media from hyping on celebrity scandals.

The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT), the nation's top broadcasting authority, issued a new regulation on April 13 prohibiting entertainment and talk show programs from gossiping over celebrity scandals. The ban aims to clean up broadcasting and protect viewers from "misleading celebrities smeared in scandals."

The regulations pointed out that broadcasters who focus on racy celebrity scandals violate media rules and go against the call to reject cultural vulgarization.

The statement says radio or TV stations should not invite any celebrities who are embroiled in scandals or have criminal records as their program guests or panel judges, and those who continue broadcasting such programs will take responsibility for their actions.

It also prohibits media from using celebrity gossip as a major selling point for their programs.

Sources at local television stations confirm that censorship has tightened and it has become more difficult for some guests to get a passport, noting that the process becomes complicated when they invite entertainers from Hong Kong and Taiwan to their programs.

Some insiders hinted that Hong Kong actress Gillian Chung's nude photo scandal triggered the ban from SARFT. The actress, whose public image was tarnished after the scandal emgerged earlier last year, was invited on a Hunan Television talk show. The program was originally scheduled to broadcast in mid April but was somehow delayed.

Though the program's production team denied any connection, it's obvious that the "comeback" actress first exclusive interview on the mainland will be further delayed once the new regulation takes effect.

(CRI April 29, 2009)

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