China TV channel turns back clock with 'red' programming
Beijing (AFP) Jan 5, 2011
A region in southwestern China has set aside popular television shows in favour of programming that extols Communist ideals, state media reported on Wednesday.
The move by Chongqing, one of four cities on a political par with the provinces, is part of a bid to make the government-controlled satellite broadcaster the "first provincial-level red channel," China Daily said.
The image of the huge and fast-growing city of more than 30 million people was sullied by a police crackdown in 2009 that exposed a thriving and rapacious criminal underworld acting with impunity.
The programming switch was aimed at "restoring fading red morals" with shows that will "reflect mainstream social values," the report said.
Chongqing is headed by its Communist Party chief Bo Xilai, son of the late Bo Yibo, a revered Communist revolutionary.
Many political observers viewed the crime crackdown as a bid by Bo to improve his chances of rising into the ruling party's top national leadership.
As part of the switch, Chongqing Satellite Television Channel will replace popular television sitcoms with homegrown programming featuring Communist-era songs and re-tellings of classic revolutionary stories, the newspaper quoted the channel as saying.
Officials at the channel and its parent Chongqing Broadcasting Group declined to comment when contacted by AFP.
China's provincial-level broadcasters have in recent years found a ready audience nationwide with programming tailored to younger viewers, putting pressure on the government mouthpiece, China Central Television (CCTV).
This has triggered official concern and some of the racier provincial programmes have been ordered to tone down or off the air, while CCTV itself has promised to freshen its comparatively staid fare.
The Chongqing channel's advertising rates have been increased by 25 percent despite "the introduction of what many believe will be less-exciting programming," China Daily said.
earlier related report
Szeto Wah, a long-time Hong Kong legislator who helped many student activists escape China following the military's violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations, died on Sunday from lung cancer at age 79.
Hong Kong maintains a semi-autonomous status in China, but critics have accused it of keeping out visitors deemed unwelcome by Beijing.
About 100 people, including more than a dozen lawmakers, observed a moment of silence outside the city's Legislative Council on Wednesday, laying white chrysanthemum flowers on a stage with Szeto's portrait to mark his death.
"The Hong Kong government, from their past actions, have had total disregard for the public's opinions and reason," Richard Tsoi, a pro-democracy activist and organiser of the Wednesday event, told AFP.
"The government really has no legitimate reason to turn them away -- they will be here to pay respects to the city's icon," he added.
Activists Wang Dan and Wu'er Kaixi, who both live in Taiwan, said this week they feared being turned back by city immigration authorities. The pair urged officials to let them attend Szeto's funeral later this month, arguing it would be inhumane not to do so.
Wu'er had told AFP he had been denied entry to Hong Kong "countless times", including a request several weeks ago to visit the terminally ill Szeto.
Lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong said Wang has never been allowed to enter the former British colony, which was returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.
"Judging from what happened in the past, I think chances of them gaining entry into Hong Kong is not high," Lee Cheuk-yan, a high-profile legislator, told reporters Wednesday.
"The ball is now in [the government's] hands... I hope they don't disappoint us," he added.
The South China Morning Post reported Wednesday the government was still "pondering" whether to issue visas to the pair, citing an unnamed source.
On Tuesday, Stephen Lam, Hong Kong's secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, declined comment on the two activists, saying authorities would act "according to relevant laws and legislation in Hong Kong".
Szeto was best known for founding the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which routinely criticised Beijing for human-rights abuses and pushed for political reforms in Hong Kong.
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Hong Kong (AFP) Jan 4, 2011
Two leaders of China's 1989 Tiananmen protests have urged Hong Kong to let them attend the funeral of democracy icon Szeto Wah, arguing it would be inhumane not to do so. Szeto Wah, a long-time legislator who helped many student leaders escape China following the 1989 crackdown by the Chinese military, died on Sunday from lung cancer at age 79. Wang Dan, who teaches at a Taiwan universit ... read more
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