China TV Regulator Wants Satellite Stations to Air More Documentaries

Call for more documentaries comes as the country cracks down on trashy programming.

These could be boom times for domestic documentaries in China after the main TV regulator requested that the country's legion of satellite TV stations must show at least one 30-minute documentary every day.

"After keeping a low profile for many years, the Chinese domestic documentary has finally ushered in the springtime of its development. Next year, China will implement more measures to support the development of documentaries," said Gao Changli, a propaganda official with the State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SGAPPRTV).

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"The SGAPPRTV will not only increase an annual support fund of five million yuan ($820,000), but it also requests all 34 satellite channels to show an average of 30 minutes of Chinese domestic documentaries every day," Gao said, quoted in the People's Daily.

The total documentary broadcast time on the country's satellite TV channels is expected to reach 6,000 hours in 2014, said Gao.

The request came at the end of the Guangzhou international documentary festival, which featured 2,071 documentaries from 72 countries. Total sales hit a record of 150 million yuan ($24.7 million) at the festival. The call for more documentaries comes after a busy period of monitoring output on China's 34 satellite channels to discourage what the regulators see as trashy TV. Singing contests have been restricted and other reality shows curtailed.

Documentaries provide a window for foreigners to understand China's development process, but they still have a minority audience.

"How to grasp the opportunity and make more documentaries that Chinese people like is still a challenge that domestic documentary makers cannot avoid," said Gao.