China begins 'Happy Girls' quest

Talent shows gets regulatory nod after four-year absence

BEIJING -- China's TV viewers could once again be singing along to an "American Idol"-style talent show now that television powerhouse Hunan Satellite Television has received the nod from government regulators.

The channel said late Tuesday that its proposed reality talent show "Happy Girls" has won conditional approval from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.

The show would last no more than two months and would air after 10:30 p.m., Hunan TV spokesman Li Chao told the state-run Xinhua news agency.

In 2005, the provincial challenger to rival China Central Television made a name for itself when the second season of its all-female "Super Girl Voice" talent show drew 400 million viewers, making an overnight star of winner Li Yuchun, a 21-year-old from Sichuan in Southwest China.

"Super Girls" stirred Chinese conservative critics and drew a crackdown from SARFT, which moved to dictate that contestants be at least 18 years old.

Some industry observers felt the crackdown resulted from regulators' concern that the show promoted democratic voting by viewers' mobile phone text messages.

The conditional approval for "Happy Girls" came after a similar program planned by Hunan was cancelled in 2008 amid criticism that it promoted vulgarity and encouraged youngsters to seek instant celebrity.

The hosts of "Happy Girls" have been instructed by SARFT to "act and speak decently" and its judges "should be authoritative and observe common courtesy," Xinhua said.

The new show would stick to the tradition of selecting the best singers according "to the taste of the general public," Li told Xinhua, adding that the contest rules and a launch date are still being discussed.