Chinese regulators don’t want to see any more children on reality TV shows, and they especially don’t want to see any more children of celebrities on reality TV shows. Got it?
That’s according to the New York Times, and first reported by the state-run news agency Xinhua. The government has been on a tear lately, issuing a flurry of guidelines about what’s acceptable content for online TV and what’s not. (Off-limits: “depictions of gay relationships, underage romance, extramarital affairs, smoking, witchcraft and reincarnation.”)
And now the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television has laid down the law regarding kids on reality TV, supposedly to shield them from “overnight fame.”
“Reality shows should pay attention to strengthening protection over minors and endeavor to reduce the participation of minors,” Xinhua reported, via the AP.
The new rules fly in the face of a booming niche. “Reality shows featuring attractive stars and their well-dressed, fashionably coiffed and often somewhat precocious children traveling or performing tasks together have grown extremely popular with Chinese viewers in recent years,” the AP explains. The foremost of these is “Where Are We Going, Dad?” Adapted from a South Korean franchise, it sends celebs like Yao Ming on camping trips with their kids. (Would definitely watch, which is probably the point of this new law.)
There’s an entire body of child-labor laws related to underaged actors here in America for a reason (though that hasn’t stopped us from pontificating about how the children of celebrities and normal people are represented online). But this particular ruling is maybe not as straightforward as simply protecting the youth from exploitation. Via the Times:
Ma Xue, a Beijing-based reality television producer, said she thought the broadcast regulator issued the new guidelines “because they don’t want people to see differences between classes.”
“On these shows, if you are the child of a celebrity, then you become a celebrity by birth,” she continued.
“This could have a negative social impact,” she added. “You can’t have class differences starting from childhood.”
Which would be in keeping with instructions from regulators about reality TV generally back in July, when they said shows should “pay attention to the masses and avoid being overly focused on celebrities” and “actively incorporate socialist values.”
The ban could also affect imported franchises without celebrity kids such as, for instance, Master Chief Junior.