BEIJING - Participants in matchmaking shows on television will now have to undergo stricter screening procedures and be cautious before mouthing venturous remarks.
Two latest documents issued by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) have banned "fake participants, morally provoking hosts and hostesses, sex-implied comments" in reality shows, which are sweeping the country's prime-time programming.
Over the past few months, popular dating programs, such as If You Are The One (aired on Jiangsu TV), Take Me Out (Hunan TV) and Run For Love (Zhejiang TV), have climbed the rating charts, with spit battles between participants and heated arguments on social issues.
But the shows have also attracted wide criticism.
"Matchmaking shows are neither entertainment programs nor TV dramas. The viewers have the right to hear the real thoughts of real participants. TV stations have no reason to deceive us," Jiang Xiaoying, an online entertainment commenter, said.
Audiences have also accused production teams of using serious topics as entertainment stunts to win viewers and hence advertisement revenue.
They seemingly encourage inappropriate tricks, like women admitting they are gold-diggers or participants abusing each other, to spice up their shows.
"Those dating shows are broadcast on leading provincial satellite channels, which means they are influencing a wide range of audiences," said Liu Wenqing, a psychologist in Henan province.
"It will have a negative impact on the public if the shows simply cater to people's low tastes."
According to reports, SARFT ordered Anhui Satellite TV to erase from its dating show You Are My Destiny footages of participant Ma Nuo, who had said on Jiangsu TV's show: "I would rather cry in a BMW (than smile on a bike)."
Both Hunan and Jiangsu TV declared their support for SARFT policies on Thursday, saying they would strictly adhere to the guidelines.