China’s Idol draws more than 400 million viewers even as its democratic voting raises questions

China’s version of Pop Idol, known as Super Girl 2005, concluded last Friday with a three hour finale. 21-year-old Li Yuchun won the contest, and that was watched by “an audience bigger even than the estimated 400 million who watched the Chinese New Year Festival Gala on China Central Television, state media said. No specific figures were available,” The Times reports.

Li Yuchun received 3.5 million votes via text messaging, while runner-up Zhou Bichang received 3.2 million votes. However, “censors were concerned that the democratic methods used to select the winner from 120,000 entrants could stir trouble,” according to The Times. “For weeks fans have been crowding shopping centres across the country, carrying posters of their favorite contestants in an attempt to rally votes for them. On Friday the streets of Changsha, the capital of Hunan, were swamped with thousands of fans who celebrated until dawn. Security guards were called in last week at two shopping centres after Super Girl fans became unruly.”

The China Daily realized that voting doesn’t always result in the best candidate winning: “How come an imitation of a democratic system ends up selecting the singer who has the least ability to carry a tune?”

TV talent contest ‘too democratic’ for China’s censors [The Times]