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JISHOU, HUNAN — China’s TV networks are saturated with historical dramas, with settings ranging from the Tang Dynasty to the Japanese Occupation and the Communist Revolution. They are surprisingly popular among viewers, but, as in the West, the Internet (free movies!) beckons to those tired of the same old same old.

So, China’s version of the FCC has mandated that, beginning Jan. 1, costume dramas will no longer be interrupted by commercials, which are often as dully repetitive as the shows they sponsor. The hope, apparently, is that viewers will sit glued to their sets and not wander away to watch Hong Kong and Korean soapies, Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, or, worse yet, read the news about China from abroad.

The ban on commercials follows another directive a few months ago to eliminate American Idol-like talent contests like Super Girl and Super Boy, which have been much more popular than the state-approved “ain’t we great?” period pieces.

[Speaking of the Super Boy show, one of my juniors was a contestant last year, but was eliminated finally. If you want to check his singing out, here’s a link of him learning he advanced to the next round and singing, “Any Man of Mine.” Yes, I know, that’s my question, too.]

The authorities hope the nation’s networks will provide wholesome entertainment that fosters better understanding of China’s culture and history — all the good parts, of course.

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