Sat, Aug 17, 2013 - Page 6 News List

China to tone down TV galas in anti-graft push

LOCAL FLAVOR:With cuts to production budgets and performance fees, TV galas broadcast over next year’s Lunar New Year will focus on less well-known artists

Reuters, BEIJING

China is to tone down and simplify the glitzy, kitsch and widely watched television galas beamed across the country over the Lunar New Year festival, state media said yesterday, as part of government efforts to fight graft.

The CCTV Spring Festival Gala, a more than four-hour showcase of comedy skits, music and dance, has become a lounge room fixture for hundreds of millions of Chinese since it was first broadcast in 1982, spawning copy-cat shows on regional stations over the holiday.

This year, Canadian singer Celine Dion — wildly popular in China — was given top billing on CCTV’s gala, where she sang My Heart Will Go On, and a Chinese song, and every year a whole host of famous Chinese faces put in appearances.

However, next year’s event is going to be a more basic affair, Xinhua news agency reported, following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) campaign to cast aside extravagance in the name of fighting corruption and winning back public trust.

“Stage lighting and decoration will use the most economical technologies, luxurious decors will be spurned, and simplicity will be striven for,” Xinhua said of the main CCTV gala for next year.

Beijing Television will also cut spending on lighting, decorations and payments to stars on its show, focusing instead on “the experience of the feelings of local people,” the news agency added.

Shanghai Television will give more space to new and upcoming artists, while Zhejiang Television will no longer allow any A-list celebrities to appear, Xinhua said.

“All of these measures are to control ... the indiscriminate extravagances of television galas,” a spokesman for China’s television regulator was quoted as saying.

The new rules echo similar demands made of officials to simplify their lives by Xi since he took over as Chinese Communist Party chief in November.

He has made cutting back on extravagance and waste a key theme of his administration, seeking to assuage anger over corruption and restore faith in the party.

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