1. For instance, see Zhu, Keane, and Bai (2008); Zhu, and Berry (2009); Curtin (2007); Zhu (2008); Neves (2011). [return to text]

2. Narrow Dwelling has three different versions, according to news articles (Ma and Xu 2009; Gou 2009). Its premier on Shanghai television Drama Channel on July 29, 2009 consisted of thirty four episodes; later it became thirty-three when it arrived on Beijing television channels in November of the same year. We can find the latest censored thirty-three episode version on LeTV or Youku (Chinese mainland websites). LeTV and YouTube, along with Narrow Dwelling’s DVD release, advertised an uncut thirty-five episode version. The major differences between the thirty-three and thirty-five versions lie in the sanitization of Song Siming and Haizao’s affair. For example, the sanitized version cuts the love scene between Song Siming and Haizao in Episode Thirty, where Song advices Haizao to undergo a physical examination, foreshadowing Haizao’s illegitimate pregnancy. In this article, I analyze the version that contains thirty-five episodes. Narrow Dwelling is available on the following websites:

Unfortunately, only the first three episodes were subtitled in English by a netizen and posted on YouTube:

3. Right before the first broadcast trial on May 1, 1958 (Guo 1991,3; Zhao 2004, 248), the Bureau of Central Broadcast Affairs (the former body of SARFT) announced on April 29, 1958 that the station had to “follow the guidelines and policies of the Party by reflecting current significant national and political events, report the achievements of socialism, publicize scientific and technological knowledge, introduce excellent art-house films, and prepare a number of programs for youngsters and children” (Zhongguo guangbo dianshi chubanshe 1988, 701).

4. As a part of the application procedure for a shooting permit, a production team has to fill out the form and submit it with a synopsis of at least 1500 words to a corresponding administration department. For the whole procedure of applying for a production permit and broadcast permit, see the ordinances announced by SARFT (2008b).

5. In addition to monitoring political ideology of television programs, another possible motivation of SARFT’s regulatory forces is economical. Meng Bingchun, scholar of media and communication studies, maintains that SARFT creates favorable policies to protect the monopoly position of China Central Television (CCTV) for the purpose of defending its economic interests. Meng reasons that as CCTV turns thirteen percent of its annual income to SARFT, television programs that potentially jeopardize the interests of CCTV and thus that of SARFT may be subject to criticism and/or being banned with similar reasons of moral decline (262-3). For example, when the talent contest show Super Girl, produced by an inland provincial television station, Hunan Satellite Television, gripped the whole nation and charged a higher price (RMB 112,500/$ 13, 587) for an ad on the contest’s final than the highest CCTV station was able to charge, an official statement from CCTV described the show as “vulgar and manipulative,” proposing to cancel the show for its “secularized” values (Meng 261). In fact, SARFT banned Super Girl after the final in 2006 and did not approve its revival until 2009. In protecting political ideology or economic interests, moral decline is a shared justification for prohibition of television programs. The controversies appearing in Narrow Dwelling are extra-marital affairs and the real estate crisis; therefore, I will focus on its negotiation with censorship and its audience response in terms of those two controversies.

6. Similarly, each episode of L’Escargot was one hour long including three sections of commercials, aired every day during weekdays, while its ending was on a Sunday night broadcasting consecutively the twenty-nineth and thirtieth episode. [return to page 2]

7. In this paper, I use “Narrow Dwelling” as the title of the television drama.

8. See Zha (1995, 7-10) for examples of protesting intellectuals turning into businessmen in post-1989 China. [return to page 3]

9. Provincial satellite channels were solely run by state-owned provincial television stations until 2001. Hong Kong-based STAR television, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation obtained approval from SARFT to enter the television network in Guangdong Province, a southern coastal region bordering Hong Kong and Macau. The channel was launched in April 2002. At the same time, China Entertainment Television (CETV), currently jointly owned by the Hong Kong based-TOM Group and the United States’ TBS Networks, launched its first broadcast in February, 2002. By 2006, around thirty foreign satellite channels had permission to broadcast in China (Lantham 56) while the Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television Chinese Channel had become popular with cable viewers by the late 1990s. SARFT restricts satellite broadcasts; for example, CETV broadcast is legally limited to mainly Guangdong Province. But in fact, there are more than 400 television channel signals received in China (Li, 2007), and residents who illegally install a satellite receiver at home may be able to watch foreign channels. [return to page 4]

10. Numerous netizens (wangmin) condemned Li Jingsheng’s critisms on the popular Chinese discussion forum bbs1.people.com.cn. For example, netizen [124.131.209 ] opined that Li was even more corrupted than the character Song Siming. See bbs1.people.com.cn.

11. There was a claim that Narrow Dwelling would be banned from further airing after a suspension of its re-run on the Beijing Youth Chanel in November 2009. However, such a claim proved to be wrong, as the television drama was re-run in 2010 with a much lower profile.

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