American TV Shows to be Hit by New Chinese Censorship Policy

The Walking Dead - Season 2, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

A Poster of The Walking Dead

From Sina:

American TV Shows May Be Hit Hard By New Internet TV Show Policy, Websites Adopt Wait-and-See Approach Slowing Down Their Buying of Shows

As online streaming video websites increasingly become the platform young audiences use to watch American and British TV shows, disputes over this matter have also become louder and louder.

This morning, according to reports by multiple overseas media including The Hollywood Reporter, China’s internet authorities will be increasing their censorship of the overseas TV shows on Chinese streaming video sites, with those to be worst-hit to be American and British TV shows known for their wide latitude [with regards to explicitness or obscenity, usually of violent or sexual content].

The Policy: Strengthen Supervision, Explicit American TV Shows May Be Hit Hard

Recently, the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) announced released new regulations aimed at strengthening the supervision of audiovisual programs such as online serial dramas and microfilms as well as the broadcasting entities [websites], within which included warnings to both companies and investors that violators will be given warnings, fines, or punishments lasting up to 5 years banning them from investment or engaging in internet audiovisual services based on severity, with serious violators may face confiscation of equipment and/or illegal earnings from the illegal activities, and/or rescission of licenses.

Multiple media including the Hollywood Reporter all said that the new regulations would severely hit recently popular American TV shows. Among them, worst-hit would likely be cable TV dramas such as The Walking Dead and Masters of Sex. Similarly, not long ago, World War Z starring Brad Pitt failed to be shown in Chinese theaters for various reasons, which again prevented it from being shown on streaming video sites.

According to analysis by America’s well-known television media TV Guide, the shows most likely to be severely punished will be Supernatural and An American Horror Story which feature supernatural subject-matter. According to sites including Indiewire, judging by the present censorship of China’s movie market, 80% of American cable TV shows available on Chinese streaming video sites face the risk of being pulled.

Sam and Dean Winchester of Supernatural.

Responses to Policy: With Specific Standards/Criteria Not Yet Released, America TV Show Suppliers May Release Two Different Versions

This morning, this newspaper’s reporter called multiple online video websites whom all responded that they are already aware of SARFT’s latest rules and regulations but the detailed official document has yet to be handed down and thus still do not know what the specific standards/criteria for censorship are in this instance. However, video sites including Youku and iQIYI have all expressed that the video content currently on their sites are all content that have already passed review and do not include any violations.

The introduction of this regulations has also slowed the pace of [purchases by] each website as they enter the [TV show] buying/licensing season. According to an insider, despite it already being the period where shows are normally purchased/licensed, the various websites remain in a wait-and-see stance. With the exception of shows like Two Broke Girls that are expected to easily pass the censors, the vast majority of sites have all slowed their pace in buying American TV shows, redirecting more of their energy into negotiations for Korean or Japanese serial dramas.

In the meantime, many American TV show suppliers are also beginning to make adjustments in response to this policy. According to the report by The Huffington Post, a lot of American TV shows production companies are already setting out to produce two different versions [of shows], respectively targeting American and international markets. According to many production companies, as the market for American TV shows around the globe continues to expand, it is already imperative to prepare two versions of the same shows in order to meet the review/censorship systems of certain countries and regions.

Bloody Scene of The Walking Dead

Comments from Sina Weibo:


A rating system of movies and TV dramas should be implemented. Certain things might not be proper for kids to watch, but adults should have their own rights to choose. The ban of American TV shows is a kind of regression. Do you support the ban of American TV shows? I strongly oppose! Our film and television industry should be brought in line with international practice; we should implement a rating system!


Are you kidding?? Use your brain and think about whether or not you can really ban [these shows, prevent people from watching]~ There has never been a ban that had stopped me from watching these shows. And don’t internet censors and SARFT always end up overturning their own bans in the end? And it’s your guys’ own fault for lagging behind others by decades, and you still don’t seize time to catch up, seize time to learn, and seize time to improve.


If domestic movies and television were interesting, who would choose to watch subtitled or dubbed American TV shows?


Do you support the ban of American TV shows? I strongly oppose! Ban your ass!!!! I passed my CET-4 all from watching The Walking Dead. If you do want to ban then ban those retarded Korean dramas where you can’t tell the men apart from the women and where after so many years it is ridiculously still the same basic plots!


Explicit, obscene? Then let us be immersed in the happy society of ridiculous Sino-Japanese War TV dramas, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law plots, Pleasant Goat waging war on Big Big Wolf and Xinwen Lianbo!


In the future, after watching Xinwen Lianbo, we’ll watch Topics in Focus [another CCTV news program], and after watching Topics in Focus, we’ll order a KFC family bucket meal to watch Japanese devils torn apart by hand, and after Japanese devils are torn apart, we’ll then watch CCTV Night News. Fuck, just thinking about this makes me feel so happy!

[Note: “Happy” here alludes to CCTV having once broadcasted a segment of interviews with people on the street asking if they were happy, something that was widely ridiculed by the Chinese public.]


WTF, how is Masters of Sex low and vulgar??? Fuck I rushed to watch it because of its name only to discover it was fucking all about science, okay???


Violence and sex are animal natures, whereas Korean and Thai dramas like Confucianism can weaken people’s animal natures. That’s why Chinese are the most peace-loving people in the world and instinctively reject war.


You [SARFT] are such fucking busybodies [eager to unnecessarily meddle in things]! Country Romance [a Chinese romantic comedy series about modern rural people’s love stories] is already on its 7th season, it’s been hundreds of episodes and Big Big Wolf hasn’t yet caught Pleasant Goat, and over a dozen channels are all [Sino-Japanese] war dramas. Do you want us to return to the 1970s and 90s? Have us crowd around the TV to watch the love stories of our moms, fights between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws, melodramatic romance dramas? It’s not that we don’t want to like domestic TV shows, but may I ask if the intelligence of those shows be higher? Banning American TV shows, talk about having nothing better to do. If you have so much time, produce good TV shows!


So American TV shows get banned before [Japanese] AVs.


Compatriots from Taiwan are weeping too, no longer able to climb over the wall [use VPN] to watch [American TV shows] with our subtitles.


Even if those shows are banned the various major sites, don’t we still have our all-powerful netizens? Why should we worry? There’ll always be torrent seeds. Only the stupid would be so upset [about this], as if their father died. Stupid cunts.


Written by Li Hao


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