'Big Bang Theory,' Other Shows Axed in China Over Harmful Content: Watchdog

Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment
"The Big Bang Theory"

"The Good Wife," "NCIS" and "The Practice" were also taken off video streaming websites by order of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

The Good WifeThe Big Bang Theory, NCIS and The Practice were ordered off video streaming websites in China because the popular shows breached regulations on harmful content, according to China's media watchdog.

There was a public outcry when the shows were taken down by order of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

The watchdog gave no explanation for the move, although it came shortly after SAPPRFT said it was planning to increase censorship of foreign content and warned that online companies such as Youku, Tencent and Sohu would have to closely vet content before making it available to stream.

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University students from Wuhan in central China sent an application to SAPPRFT asking why the shows had been banned and subsequently posted the response on a university website.

SAPPRFT said there were copyright issues and the shows were not in line with Article 16 of state regulations on Internet audiovisual products.

While it was not clear which section of the rules the shows were not in line with, Article 16 relates to shows that “harm the nation's reputation, mislead young people to commit crimes, prostitution, gambling or terrorism."

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Industry insiders, who requested anonymity, say that while inappropriate content was given as a reason, there were also moves afoot to bring the shows back.

Generally, the online streaming sites have operated with far more freedom, showing edgy material (such as The Walking Dead and House of Cards) that traditional outlets, such as TV networks and movie theaters, did not.

It's long been baffling how the government allows shows like House of Cards to stream in China, particularly the second season, which had a storyline critical of Chinese government corruption.