The trade in television formats has been increasing in recent years, with shows such as Big Brother and American Idol being picked up by broadcasters and production companies around the world, localised with home-grown talent, and re-broadcast to domestic audiences.

Yet in China, authorities are now seeing this boom of popular, ‘low-brow’ entertainment as a threat to the cultural fabric of Chinese society. An AFP news feed article China gives thumbs down to ‘American Idol’ imitators picked up by several sources (ChannelNewsAsia, BrisbaneTimes) indicates that with the launch of a new talent show Happy Boy, a sequel to the wildly successful Super Girl the central government has given strict instructions to broadcaster Hunan Satellite TV.

“No weirdness, no vulgarity, no low taste,” it told Hunan Satellite as it listed 11 restrictions for this year’s series.

Contestants must only sing “healthy and ethically inspiring” songs, while the show must not indulge in “gossip”.

Relate this back to a previous post about Korean Nationalism and the response from imports of Japanese formats. Unlike the Korean case, the negative reaction to the influx of foreign ideas or culture in China is predictably coming from the government rather than concerned private interests.