China’s National Radio and Television Administration announced new guidelines for TV programs involving minors on Wednesday, effectively cracking down on reality shows starring the children of celebrities.
Under the guidelines, which go into effect April 30, shows that star or are intended for children are prohibited from “sensationalizing” and “over-commercializing” minors. Such shows, whether broadcast on TV or streamed online, must also refrain from promoting violence, competition, underage romance, or discussions about fame and wealth.
According to the announcement, the move is intended to protect the well-being of underage performers generally and the children of celebrities specifically.
Following the popularity of “Dad, Where Are We Going?” — a hit TV program that pits father-child pairs against one another in various competitions — China has seen a deluge of reality shows featuring parents and their children. Based on a Korean program of the same name, the show premiered in 2013 and quickly achieved commercial success, becoming one of China’s most-watched reality shows by 2014.
But the show’s gradual downfall in the years since has signaled a sea change in the entertainment industry. In 2016, the country’s media regulators banned the “overuse” of celebrities’ children in reality television programs, forcing “Dad, Where Are We Going?” to move to online streaming platform Mango TV. Soon after, a commentary by the state-run Xinhua News Agency accused reality show stars of exploiting their own children for “quick money.”
Then in August 2018, a statement from the producers of “Dad, Where Are We Going?” said that the next season — which had already been teased in multiple trailers online — would be delayed. Later that same month, the National Radio and Television Administration unveiled a draft version of this week’s new regulation. Since then, the social media account for “Dad, Where Are We Going?” has not posted any new updates about the next season.
Chinese netizens, too, have long criticized the treatment of minors on programs featuring child stars. Some viewers of “Dad, Where Are We Going?” recoiled during the fourth season when adult male celebrities were shown sleeping with and even bathing children who were not their own, among other questionable activities.
Editor: Layne Flower.
(Header image: A still frame from the Chinese reality TV show “Dad, Where Are We Going?”)