China has announced new television programming restrictions that ban talent shows during prime time.

The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) said in a posting on its website on Friday thatit wanted to "resist vulgarity" in television programs.

'The performing style, language, hair and clothing of the contestants must be in line with the taste of the masses.'—Statement from SARFT

"Some shows have slid into low taste in terms of program design, selection of judges, [and] performances of contestants," it said in a statement.

"The performing style, language, hair and clothing of the contestants must be in line with the taste of the masses," SARFT said.

The country has been awash in talent shows ever since Super Girl— a version of American Idol — aired in 2005 and became a smash hit.

Among the severe restrictions imposed beginning Oct. 1 are:

  • Talent show proposals must be submitted to SARFT at least three months before broadcast.
  • Each provincial station can only apply for one talent show a year, which must be 10 episodes or fewer.
  • Live broadcasts are not allowed except for the final round of competition.
  • Performance tours by show winners cannot be televised.

More importantly, the new edict prohibits voting for contestants by cellphones and the internet.Cellphone voting has become a lucrative way for stations to earn extra profits.

In addition, the media watchdog says talent shows should only include "healthy and ethically inspiring" songs while hosts of these programs should not be sarcastic or flirt with one another.

Chinese authorities have been slowly putting the squeeze on broadcasting and news reports over the past few years.

Last week, SARFT shut down 13 radio shows deemed to be "extremely pornographic" because they contained discussions about sexual experiences.

In late August, SARFT issued a directive banning all shows about cosmetic surgery and sex changes saying they were too explicit and vulgar.

Previous limitations have included restrictions on foreign content in news programs as well as script approval for television dramas.