China has issued new rules to put the brakes on free-wheeling TV programs that imitate the U.S. hit "American Idol" and undermine socialist values.

"All types of competitive activities should be positive, healthy, cheerful and have a favorable influence on morality," said the directive issued by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television this week.

The rules threaten programs like the copycat singing competition "Super Girl" and its planned male version, "I Love Real Men," the South China Morning Post reported Friday.

The directive, posted on the administration's Web site, limits the number of competitive programs and forbids them from copying others' formats. It also criticizes the "star worship" generated by televised singing competitions.

Television stations cannot award prizes or cash, and the clothing and hairstyles of participants cannot be "vulgar," the rules say.

A Shanghai academic, who declined to be named, said authorities were worried about the way national competition programs organized large numbers of people to vote, the Post reported.

More than 8 million people voted by text message for the finalists in last season's "Super Girl" competition.