Source: Xinhua | 2013-1-3 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
A TV program in central China's Hubei Province is forcing government officials to respond to public complaints under the glare of studio lighting and the unblinking eye of the camera.
During a recent broadcast, Yang Zefa, director of the food and drug administration in Wuhan, the provincial capital, apologized after a video clip depicting an illegal food production facility was shown.
Yang then demanded that more than 50 law enforcement officers be sent to inspect and close the facility that evening.
The program has been created by the Wuhan government in order to improve officials' work and create a new way for the public to have supervision over what the government is doing.
"We collect stories regarding the public's top concerns, secretly film the stories and broadcast them live," said Liu Zhiming, who works for the program.
"The directors of relevant government departments are invited to come on the show to take questions and be assessed by representatives of the public, as well as our commentators," Liu said. "None of them knows what will be played on the show before it airs."
The program, like the microblog accounts that many officials have opened in recent months, allows the public to interact and participate in government affairs.
"These officials show another side to the public when they're on the show. They get embarrassed and sweat when they encounter unexpected questions," wrote Guo Wenjing in an online post.
Television and the Internet have brought government officials and the general public closer by providing new ways to communicate, said Shen Yang, a professor at Wuhan University.
Pang Yanping, a teacher from Wuhan who has contributed stories to the program, said the show gave the public greater opportunities to voice their opinions and report problems to the government.
However, Tang Xiaotian, a professor at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, said the program had some limitations, adding that the show's creators should take care to avoid neglecting their goal of helping people solve problems.
The government has been endeavoring to promote information transparency and create conditions for the public to supervise government work in recent years.
To encourage more public participation in government supervision, the government should integrate both traditional and modern complaint channels in order to solicit more advice from the public, Shen said.