Outcry in China after fans of talent show seen pouring away milk in bid to support idols

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – A video of some fans of a talent show pouring milk away in order to obtain the caps of the bottled milk of the programme sponsor has sparked outrage in China.

China’s top cyberspace watchdog has pledged to make greater efforts to guide youngsters to sensibly follow celebrities by further regulating online platforms.

The move comes after a video in which some fans poured milk down drains to support their idols in a talent show enraged the public.

“We’ve made the control of online star-chasing behaviour a priority this year. We plan to resolutely fight against those who instigate young people to follow stars irrationally and harshly punish online platforms that allow such behaviour to be indulged,” said Mr Zhang Yongjun, head of the network comprehensive management division with the country’s Cyberspace Administration.

He made the remark at a news conference on Saturday (May 8) following the public outcry in response to the online video that showed fans of the popular talent programme Youth With You pouring away the milk.

The clip emerged after the programme urged viewers to vote for their favourite contestants by buying bottled milk and scanning QR codes inside the caps. Viewers realised the more milk they bought, the more votes their favourite contestant would receive.

This resulted in some young fans purchasing more bottles than they could consume. They would just scan the codes and then dump the milk.

Last week, iQiyi, the online platform airing the programme, and Mengniu, the dairy firm involved in the promotion, both apologised for the “milk pouring” incident. The talent show has also been cancelled.

Mr Zhang expressed concern about the voting rules, noting the problem was not just fans’ unrestrained pursuit of stars, but also the connivance of the internet platforms and the bad behaviour of businesses.

“There’s nothing wrong with young people chasing stars, but the pursuit of them without a bottom line is a problem,” he said, explaining why the administration is determined to intensify the fight against those who instigate youngsters to follow stars irrationally and support their own idols by insulting other celebrities with ugly words or even by making false claims against them.

“Online platforms that indulge such irregularities and refuse to mend their ways despite repeated criticism will face tougher punishments,” he said.

Netizens have also criticised the gimmick for causing food wastage amid China’s efforts to combat food waste.

“They forgot how many children in rural areas cannot afford one bottle of milk and their well-off lives make them forget how precious food is… The production team and the milk company should all be punished under the new law,” one netizen commented on Sina Weibo.

The new anti-food waste law stipulates that individuals and organisations that make and circulate programmes that promote big eaters will face a fine of between 10,000 (S$2,060) and 100,000 yuan, Global Times reported.

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