Chinese authorities ban competition shows from using voting systems that require fans to spend money to vote following iQIYI's milk-wasting scandal
Published: May 10, 2021 08:41 PM
Youth With You Season 3 Photo:VCG

Youth With You Season 3 Photo:VCG

Chinese competition reality shows are no longer allowed to set up systems in which fans can spend money to vote for their favorites, according to a new notice issued by the Beijing Municipal Radio and Television Bureau on Monday. The announcement comes after the hit show Youth With You Season 3 found itself at the center of a scandal in which tons of bottled milk was bought and wasted by fans who were trying to keep their favorite idols on the show. 

According to the notice, the programs are strictly prohibited from setting up voting systems that require or encourage people to "vote by spending money" such as purchasing certain goods or memberships on video platforms to support competitors. Data fraud and participation by minors has also been banned. 

According to media reports, these types of voting systems have had a huge impact on the number of subscribers to shows. For example, after the release of competition reality show Sisters Who Make Waves, streaming platform Mango TV saw an increase of more than 28 million users.

Shi Wenxue, a cultural critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Monday that this notice is sure to impact membership registration rates and audience viewership on these video platforms.

"The release of this notice is more targeted, especially after the scandal with Youth With You Season 3, but I don't think it will give a big hit on the shows as they can recover and continue earning profit by adjusting the competition system," Shi noted, adding that the way that Japan promotes their idol bands can be a favorable idea.

For instance, in Japan fans can earn a special coupon by buying a band's albums. These coupons allow them to attend events with certain activities, such as giving fans the opportunity to hold hands with their idols, such as members of the Japanese idol group AKB48.

"The connection between sponsors and video platforms have been weakened by the release of the notice. Sponsors will not be able to directly link their products with the voting system of the shows anymore, and the normal way of promoting through advertisement can be acceptable," said Luo Ting, a teacher in media and public affairs at China's Communications University.

Luo pointed that voting for purchasing milk is too "capitalistic", and this "money above all" will misguide the minors' values to see the world. "The show should set more judgment standards in the players' professions and specialty to ensure its' relative fairness," he said.