BEIJING - Chinese authorities have ordered video streaming websites in the country to stop showing four popular American TV shows, including "The Big Bang Theory" and "The Good Wife," representatives from two sites said Sunday.
The move suggests that government attention is intensifying on the online streaming industry, which is freer than state television and China's cinemas to show foreign productions and other content and has stretched the boundaries of what can be seen in the country.
A spokeswoman for a leading online video site, Youku, said it had received notification on Saturday not to show "The Big Bang Theory," "The Good Wife," crime drama "NCIS" and legal drama "The Practice." Of those, Youku showed only "The Good Wife."
Online streaming sites regularly receive orders to take down Chinese or foreign TV programs and movies, but usually because the regulator considers them to be too salacious or violent, or because they infringe copyright laws. Sohu's most popular U.S. shows are "Nikita" - episodes from the first and second seasons have been watched a combined total of 472 million times - and "Masters of Sex," which weren't included in the order.
From time to time the regulator limits American-style reality TV and other light fare on satellite channels, ostensibly to stop "vulgar content." Some observers suspect that authorities are concerned that they are taking too much audience away from the national broadcaster, which the government sees as a tool to mold public opinion.