New Chinese rules for radio and TV programs ban dissent and religion

Broadcast programs should promote “advanced socialist culture” and support the regime, according to a new regulation.

by Zhou Kexin

The television production building of the Chinese television system. Credits.

The State Radio and Television Administration has published last month, its new “Provisions on the administration of the production and business of online radio, television and audiovisual programs”. The post is called a “draft request for comments”, which could have been submitted until September 8. As usual, this exercise in pseudo-democracy will only produce minimal changes to the text (if any).

One after another, all internet and entertainment sectors are subject to stricter regulations, in line with Xi Jinping himself, who claimed that these sectors are “chaotic” and not fully controlled by the CCP. .

In addition to preventing foreigners from producing audiovisual programs for radio, television or Internet broadcasting in China and limiting production only to explicitly authorized companies, the new regulations include a long list of prohibited content.

The most relevant elements are included in numbers 1 to 6 of article 18 of the new regulations, which stipulate that “The production or distribution of programs with the following content is prohibited:

(A) violating the fundamental principles established by the Constitution, inciting resistance or undermining the application of the Constitution, laws and regulations, distorting and negating advanced socialist culture;

(B) endanger national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity, reveal state secrets, endanger national security, undermine national dignity, honor and interests, promote the terrorism, extremism, nihilism;

(C) denigrating China’s excellent traditional culture, inciting ethnic hatred, ethnic discrimination, violating national customs and practices, distorting national history or national historical figures, hurting national feelings and undermining the national unity;

(D) distort, slander, profane or deny revolutionary culture, or the deeds and spirit of heroic martyrs;

(E) be contrary to national religious policy or promote xie jiao and superstition;

(F) endanger social morality, disrupt social order, undermine social stability (…)”

Interestingly, the regulations reaffirm the CCP’s monopoly on how China’s story is told, with any deviation prohibited as “nihilism.”

The usual formula excludes religion, since it refers to the “national religious policy” which prohibits religious activities and information through any media, unless expressly authorized, while any non-negative reference to prohibited groups such as xie jiao or to the very broad domain of “superstition” is prohibited.

Finally, the category “damage to social morality, disturbance to social order, harm to social stability” is a catch-all, allowing the authorities to suppress any dissent or criticism of the CCP, even if it is not explicitly listed.