China media watchdog pulls smash-hit talent show

China's media watchdog has pulled the plug on the nation's smash-hit answer to "American Idol" to make way for shows that "provide practical information for housework", state media said Saturday.

Much like its US counterpart, "Super Girl" - launched in 2004 - proved an instant hit, attracting hundreds of millions of viewers and turning some of its singing contestants into nationwide celebrities.

Li Hao, spokesman for Hunan Satellite TV - which aired the programme and is part of one the nation's biggest television networks - said the channel had been accused of violating broadcasting rules, Xinhua news agency said.

According to the report, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, China's media watchdog, issued rules in 2007 banning talent shows during prime-time, evening slots on local satellite TV channels.

It also restricted the broadcasting time of these shows to just two hours a day due to official concerns that young viewers were spending too much time watching the hugely popular programmes.

Li said Hunan TV - a provincial-level channel - had been accused of breaching this time limit, according to the report.

"Hunan Satellite Television obeys the state watchdog's decision and will not hold similar talent shows next year," he was quoted as saying.

"Instead, the channel will air programmes that promote moral ethics, public safety and provide practical information for housework."

China's provincial-level broadcasters have in recent years attracted a ready audience nationwide with edgy programming tailored to younger viewers, putting pressure on the government mouthpiece China Central Television (CCTV).

This has triggered official concern and some of the racier provincial programmes have been ordered to tone down or come off air.

In January, the southwestern megacity of Chongqing ordered its Chongqing Satellite Television channel replace popular sitcoms with programming featuring Communist-era songs and classic revolutionary stories, state media said.