Last Sunday, the Chinese government announced a new set of rules that put a tight cap on foreign programs availability in an effort to encourage local broadcast production.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) recently confirmed in the People’s Daily that foreign programs with imported copyrights will not be aired on broadcast satellite TV without the approval of local regulators.

Programs that take inspiration from international series, such as the singing contest The Voice of China, will have to ask for the local regulators’ approval at least two months before airing. Xinhua, the state news agency, confirmed that the satellite television channels will not air more than two imported programs per year during primetime hours (7.30pm – 10.30pm).

These rules have been designed, according to SAPPRFT, to preserve and promote Chinese traditions and to boost the domestic creative industry. “Only independently innovative programs with Chinese cultural genes, characteristics and style can sustain themes of the Chinese dream, core socialist values, patriotism and outstanding Chinese cultural traditions,” a Xinhua article issued on Sunday reports. These measures were taken as some of the local TV channels were allegedly “too dependent on broadcasting foreign inspired programs”, so much so that they could not create original content.

If broadcasters do not abide to these new rules, they will be banned from showing other content for one year, with the possibility of more severe consequences. These measures will place a significant limit on broadcasters’ possibilities, and join the already strict measures that President Xi Jinping recently took in order to better control the State’s media. Jinping recently promised censorship and ‘severe punishment’ for all the media content in the country that does not follow the State policies and ideologies.

His political line was embraced by media regulators. “We must resolutely stop and seriously punish those behaviours in programs that follow, and hype, heated social issues, ridicule national policy, spread wrong views, preach extreme ideas and intensify contradictions,” said Tian Jin, the deputy head of the regulator to the People’s Daily.

In March this year, SAPPRFT banned TV shows that depicted so-called “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content”, such as drinking, homosexuality, sexual freedom and adultery. Concerns for media freedom inevitably rise as China’s new media are subjected to even stricter measures in the state’s quest to “achieve ideological dominance” and ensure political consistency and uniformity of values across all the State’s channels.