American television shows banned in China as part of online crackdown
Strict Internet censorship policies are proliferating throughout China as a number of American television shows were banned from websites in the country.
The Internet has a number of capabilities that are dramatically changing the ways that companies operate both in the U.S. and around the world. For instance, Netflix dramatically changed the video and television rental game when it made a number of movies and TV shows available online. These capabilities have also changed the online media game as more and more television shows are going straight to the Internet, such as House of Cards and Arrested Development.
One of the U.S.'s biggest economic exports is entertainment, with movies and television shows being broadcast in different languages around the world. In China, a number of these programs were available for a while through various online video websites, however, these capabilities are fast disappearing as the country tightens its hold on Internet freedom.
The Wall Street Journal reported that four American-made television shows – "The Big Bang Theory," "The Good Wife," "NCIS" and "The Practice" – were all banned from Chinese cyberspace. Before the ban, these television shows were hosted by online video companies like Sohu, Youku Tudou Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., which support the programs for free and make money off of ad revenue.
The news source noted that the ban came about as a part of larger efforts on the Chinese government to control the rules when it comes to broadcasting television. In the past, the government has maintained strict controls on films made outside of the country, but by comparison, these websites have had much more freedom.
This was the most recent action in a number of bans from the Chinese government. Earlier this year, the government called for these companies to censor online content before it is posted online.
Maintaining 'order' online
Following the news of the ban on American television shows, the country's leading communist newspaper commented on the state of Internet freedom with in the country, according to Reuters. The People's Daily acts as the "mouthpiece" of the government and noted that there needed to be more order on the Internet before their could be online freedom.
"If you don't have Internet order, how can you have Internet freedom? Anyone enjoying and exercising their Internet rights and freedoms must not harm the public interest and cannot violate laws and regulations and public ethics," said the newspaper according to Reuters.
These comments come as the the government continues to crackdown on Internet freedom since President Xi Jingping took office. These efforts are a part of a wider program that aims to remove lewd and pornographic content.
The program, which has been referred to as the Great Firewall of China, is one of the most extensive online censorship policies in the world. While these most recent actions address the realm of online video streaming in the country, there are other efforts that address other forms of web content.
For instance, Sina Weibo is a major microblogging site that is comparable to Twitter. The site recently came under heavy scrutiny from the Communist Party censoring users who allegedly spread rumors online. However, this tactic has been used as a means to limit government criticism.
While the motivation behind these programs is a bit more clear, the reasoning behind the television shows is less so. Freedom online is something that has the power to liberate people and inform them about the various issues that are facing the world today. Be it a television program or the expression of one's ideas online, people need to be able to express their opinions and access information without government intervention be it in China or around the world.