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Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
China bans 'vulgar' talent show
Fans of Chinese singing contest Happy Boy's Voice
TV talent shows have attracted thousands of fans in China
A Chinese TV talent programme has been banned by the state's broadcasting watchdog for being "vulgar".

The First Heartthrob, a Pop Idol-style competition, was accused of catering to "the low-grade interests of a minority" and cancelled with immediate effect.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft) added that the show lacked social responsibility.

About 100,000 contestants auditioned for the show, which began last year, said the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

The ban comes amid a tightening of media controls ahead of the Chinese Communist Party's party congress.

The meeting is expected to set the agenda for the party and the country for the next five years and produce some leadership changes.

The programming lacks artistic standards. The songs performed are vulgar
State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, China
Sarft did not specify if one particular incident had led to the programme being banned.

However, Chinese media reports suggest that a recent episode in which a contestant reduced one of the show's female judges to tears may have prompted the move.

"The design of the show is coarse. The judges' behaviour lacks grace. The programming lacks artistic standards. The tone of the show has cheapened. The songs performed are vulgar," the China News Service quoted Sarft as saying.

'Ethically inspiring'

The Chongqing Television station, which aired the programme, said it would discuss penalties for the show's producers and report to Sarft next week.

The First Heartthrob - which media reports have also identified as The First Heartbeat or The First Time I Was Touched - is one of several TV talent shows to achieve high ratings in China.

Last week, Sarft required another such programme, Happy Boy's Voice, to include only "healthy and ethically inspiring" songs, and to try to avoid broadcasting "gossip" about the participants.

It also banned judges from humiliating contestants.

Sarft ordered all Chinese broadcasters to note the ban of the Chongqing show and urged them to "voluntarily abide by political discipline and propaganda discipline," said the China News Service.

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