In the evening of 25 of January 2009, most Chinese people in mainland China were at home, enjoying the year end dinner while waiting for the Lunar New Year. A usual entertainment for the night among family members was to watch the Spring Festival Gala broadcasted by CCTV. This year, they could have an alternative, however…
A netizen, Lao Meng planned to organize an alternative Spring Festival Gala online, called Shanzhai Spring Gala 山寨春晚 (The meaning of Shanzhai is home-based factory or mountain village), in November 2008. He openly called for participation and had successfully recruited 35 performances. The Gala was scheduled to broadcast online via video hosting websites, Tecent and UUSee, in the evening of 25 of January. However, in early January, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) issued a notice demanding all the media stop reporting on the Shanzhai Gala. Moreover, due to some unknown reasons, the venue booking on that night was canceled and Lao Meng had to record the performances and turn the “public performance” into gathering and celebration among friends.
Lao Meng and his friends had finished recording their performance on 22 of January. However, they failed to upload the video, if the clips are tagged as “Shanzhai Spring Gala”. Even if they don't tag the clips, the uploading would be intercepted in the middle of the data transmission. On 2 of February journalist from Beijing News reported that he failed to find any video clip concerning Shanzhai Spring Gala on 56 major online video hosting websites in China. Lao Meng speculated that the performance was blocked by the government under the pretext of anti-Smut campaign.
Which sectors are to responsible for this blocking? Gowers points out:
The Shanzhai Spring festival Gala's slogan is “Spring Festival Gala for the people, by the people”, and the performances were designed for rural migrant workers, students and Diasporas who fail to return home for family gatherings. It is very likely that the CCTV and propaganda department see it as a challenge to their status.
In 163.com, there are more than 200 comments on the blocking of Shanzhai Gala, most of them criticize CCTV's monopoly status. Below are some selected comments:
You can access the Shanzhai Spring Festival Gala in youtube(however, it is difficult to distinguish which are the genuine Lao Meng production as many use the Shanzhai tag to increase the video’s popularity). For mainland Chinese, they can access via Proxy and TOR. Here is a production by mainland Chinese students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, using the Shanzhai in their title:
This article is cross-posted in Globalvoices Advocacy with slight changes.