China has cut three out of four widely watched Spring Festival galas sponsored by ministries and state media, as the ruling party has stepped up efforts to cut pomp and fight corruption.
The three galas to be hosted by the ministries of public security, culture, and civil affairs respectively have been canceled, leaving only the Spring Festival Gala of China Central Television (CCTV) to be aired during the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, a source from the Ministry of Culture confirmed on Thursday.
The move came amid a broad campaign launched by the Communist Party of China (CPC) to cut extravagance and reduce red tape after the election of a new CPC leadership in November 2012.
The CPC launched campaigns to reduce waste and promote frugality as well as ban CPC officials from pomp, ceremony and bureaucratic visits and meetings.
In August 2013, the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, along with another four government organs, issued a circular requiring fewer galas to be held and promoting frugality in galas.
The State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television has required that copycat galas on regional TV stations over the upcoming Spring Festival, which falls on Jan. 31 this year, should not exceed three per evening.
The CCTV has called off 17 gala programs since the Middle Autumn Day, which fell on Sept. 19 last year, accounting for half of the broadcaster's gala programs, the China Youth Daily reported on Thursday.
"Excessive use of stage lighting, sound effects and decorations will be banned, fewer celebrities will be hired and more grassroots people will come to the stage," the newspaper quoted the state broadcaster as saying.
The CCTV gala, which lasts more than four hours and features music, dance, witty skits and crosstalk comedy, has become an annual fixture for millions of Chinese worldwide on the eve of Chinese New Year sincethe early 1980s.
However, its popularity has declined in recent years as Internet users have scorned the gala as rigid, outdated, and lacking a grassroots foundation.
This year, the state broadcaster has employed well-known film director Feng Xiaogang as the general director of the gala and well-known comedian Zhao Benshan as deputy general director in charge of the gala's comedy programming.