A reality TV show in China has come under fire and was discontinued after being exposed as having been fabricated. Viewers expressed their anger and disillusionment with Chinese television broadcasting, saying the incident illustrates a serious lack of ethics in reporting. One blogger demanded that TV stations airing programs with false information should all be shut down.
The TV segment, “When Father Became Son,” was announced as being a reality show featuring real people discussing their struggles in life.
The show was produced by the Hebei Jiutian media company and broadcast on Shijiazhuang Channel 3 TV in the northern city of Shijiazhuang.
The story line was promptly found to be fabricated, and the participants were exposed as being actors rather than everyday folks struggling with relationship issues.
Under public pressure, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) took Channel 3 Shijiazhuang TV off the air for a month and revoked the production company’s license for three years. The TV station, however, was not reprimanded or fined.
A notice by SARFT said the Hebei Jiutian media company began a reality talk show on Shijiazhuang TV Channel 3 that aimed to reflect the everyday lives of ordinary people. An episode that aired on June 29, “When Father Became Son” told the story of an ungrateful son who constantly insulted and bullied his father.
The way the show was exposed, was quite ironic.
Xu Feng, the young man who acted out the part of the disrespectful son, unexpectedly found his rise to stardom not quite what he had expected, and difficult to endure. Viewers, who thought this was all real, were quite upset with Xu’s bad manners and attitude towards his father. Not only was Xu verbally assaulted by countless bloggers, he was even beaten up in the street one day.
Desperate to rid himself of his nasty, faked television persona, redeem his good character, and return to the normalcy of his former life, Xu confessed to media that he and the other people on the show were only acting, and that he was just a lowly security guard at some company.
Fake Shows, Fake News
Xu’s confession again drew a storm from netizens. One blogger said that TV stations airing programs with false information should all be shut down.
“This is the reason why many people don’t want to be good people,” another blogger commented. “China’s TV stations are very irresponsible. Fake medicine commercials, fake shows, fake news—if they get money for it, they will broadcast anything.”
The majority of people who expressed their opinions online seemed to feel that the TV station was to be blamed for the fraud, and that the production company was just made the scapegoat.
A commentary by Xiao Yong, published by China West News, agreed with people’s assessment, saying without the TV station’s approval the show would not have aired. Xiao also said that punishment meted to a municipal TV station for disregarding the law and openly deceiving the audience, only scratches the surface of the problem.
Indeed, there have been countless cases in the past years of news fabrication by Chinese media. According to a recent report by New Epoch Weekly, they are produced under the pretext of commercial interests, political achievements, and maintaining stability.
A show called “Heaven’s Vengeance” was aired on July 11 by Party mouthpiece China Central Television (CCTV) Channel 12. The story line told of a man who had been murdered, and of his many girlfriends. A photo, said to be of one of the man’s girlfriends, was identified by a discerning viewer as an old photo of a Japanese porn star. News rapidly spread on the Internet, and CCTV quickly deleted the video.
Another recent example is footage of a Libyan woman firing a gunshot into the sky last March. CCTV claimed it was civilians welcoming Gaddafi, while in fact it was the rebels who were celebrating the Libyan regime’s military personnel leaving Benghazi.
The most serious case of Chinese media news fabrication may be the staged “self-immolation” in Tiananmen Square. Orchestrated by the regime in Jan. 2001, and aired nonstop by Chinese state TV, this fraudulent video became the centerpiece of the Party’s propaganda and persecution against the Falun Gong meditation group.
Ma Xiaoming, a former reporter for Shanxi TV who has won numerous national and provincial awards for his news reporting, told New Epoch Weekly that the program “When Father Became Son” has seriously blurred the boundary between fiction programs and news reporting.
“Making false claims is so common in this society, and is a direct result of the ruling party’s advocating deception, exaggeration, and empty promises. The ruling party and the government are at fault,” Ma said.
Since his interview with New Epoch Weekly, Ma has been reported missing.
Read the original Chinese article.