China cuts surgery-based reality shows


BEIJING -- China's media regulators have banned reality TV shows that feature plastic surgery or sex-change operations, after some viewers complained they were "horrifying and sickening," local media reported Tuesday.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, in a document on its Web site dated Aug. 23, called a halt to programs with such "indecent themes and bloody and explicit scenes."

One such show, modeled after the Fox show "The Swan," was called "Lovely Cinderella" in Chinese and kicked off the trend. It was followed with the July debut of "A New Date With Beauty."

"Cinderella" was broadcast by the satellite station run by the government of the province of Hunan in central China. In both shows, women were given multiple reconstructive surgeries in exchange for agreeing to unveil the results for the first time, even to themselves, in front of a television studio audience.

"Ongoing programs of this kind should be stopped immediately," SARFT said in its notice. "Any party that violates the rule will be punished."

The popularity of the programs comes as urban Chinese incomes rise and beauty products and other cosmetic options from around the world become more readily available to Chinese consumers.

Last year, the U.S. Cosmetic, Fragrance, and Toiletry Assn. called China its "largest future growth market," and such companies as Avon, Mary Kay, L'Oreal and Procter & Gamble are all fighting for a share.

One viewer of "Beauty," broadcast in South China's Guangdong Province, said she found the scenes to be "horrifying and sickening," the English-language China Daily reported.

SARFT said that the television industry should "promote a correct world outlook" and "resist one-sided pursuit of ratings." He Yi, an official with Guangdong Television, said that the producers will abide by SARFT's decision.

SARFT's latest ban comes a week after it pulled the plug on the local talent TV show "The First Heartthrob," from Southwest China's Chongqing TV, the China Daily reported. That show was banned for catering to "low-grade interests," as judges and songs on the program often used bad language.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.