Some people think that countries with limits on the expression of public opinion may not allow Live Forum TV to be broadcast, because it invites people to express their opinions by voting. So here’s a surprise! A new TV series in Mainland China, encouraged by a regional government, is inviting the public to vote – and it’s very popular!
The programme has an eye-catching name: “You’re Stir-fried Squid”, which means “You’re fired”. However it also has a very significant purpose: the public are invited to question local officials about their efforts to attract tourists. The officials describe their ideas and their work, hoping to win votes from the public and from judges, to confirm that they are doing a good job.
The TV series started in May 2016 in Shanxi Province and, in that one province alone, there were an astonishing 8.3 millions online votes in the first few weeks! (click here).
The authorities have more than accepted the new TV series: the vice-governor of Shanxi Province encouraged the broadcaster to introduce voting by members of the public.
It’s encouraging that a TV discussion with public voting is already seen in China as helpful, not as a threat. Live Forum TV will give a voice to the public on a wide range of issues, in a format that is carefully designed to produce answers, not arguments. That’s entirely different from traditional political talk shows in the west, many of which deliberately provoke arguments and produce no useful conclusion. Those programmes add to divisions and polarisation, which in some countries can lead to violence.
Live Forum TV is an entirely different concept, designed to develop and build agreements on practical ways forward. China’s leaders and people are starting on a similar path – and look like being the first to benefit.