New guidelines set forth by the State Administration of Radio Film and Television in China take aim at science fiction, supernatural and mythological plot-lines in television and radio programs. Specifically, the government claims to be concerned about upholding the mores of Chinese heritage, which they say discourage “fantasy, time-travel, random compilations of mythical stories, bizarre plots, absurd techniques, even propagating feudal superstitions, fatalism and reincarnation, ambiguous moral lessons, and a lack of positive thinking.”
Suggested alternatives, just in time for the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party, include reproductions of the Chinese revolution and historical pieces with emphasis on construction and reform. (One can also assume that martial arts programs are still okay.)
In China, all media is tightly controlled to prevent challenges to political authority. Though the country’s constitution extends the rights of free speech and press, China’s laws regarding state secrets are vaguely-worded and ambiguous–a tactic designed to allow government control of the freedoms of speech and press under the blanket excuse of protecting classified information. In fact, “the definition of state secrets … fails to comply with international human rights standards,” says the nongovernmental advocacy group Human Rights in China.
What do these new guidelines mean for currently-running shows that now defy state mandates on appropriate viewing material? Well, past examples show that detention, harassment, property destruction, and violence aren’t out of the question, since 178 individual cases of such interference were reported in 2008. Stations and newspapers that run controversial content are routinely fined and seized by governing bodies.
So, in short, looks like there won’t be any reruns of “Back to the Future” running on China Central Television.