Chinese video streaming websites have removed four legally licensedUS television shows in a move that could portend "stricter online monitoring",state-run media reported Monday."From Saturday, popular shows 'The Big Bang Theory', 'The Good Wife', 'NCIS' and'The Practice' were no longer available on tv.sohu.com, youku.com and v.qq.com,"the Global Times said, referring to three popular services and adding that the series
were "all purchased legally for viewing in China".China closely censors all media, from newspapers to foreign films to microbloggingposts, in a vast effort to control public discourse and avoid sensitive topics thatcould undermine the Communist authorities' grip on power.But it was unclear why these shows, which did not have excessively political orsexual themes that might be considered inappropriate, were removed.TV series from the US and Britain were "increasingly popular in China" and"importing shows has become big business", the Global Times said.
The removal of such content "may indicate that authorities are imposing stricteronline monitoring", it cited film and drama critic Be Chenggong as saying.Be added that fans of the shows could easily access them from unauthorisedwebsites anyway.But that did not stop the Chinese from airing their frustrations Monday on the
popular microblogging site Sina Weibo.One complained of having to turn to American, Japanese and Korean shows for lackof decent Chinese alternatives."If you could come up with shows that didn't insult people's intelligence, andmovies that were not so low-quality yet expensive, you think I would spend so muchenergy looking for them?" the user posted.Another commentator vented about common domestic viewing fare such asexaggeratedly heroic wartime dramas, asking how "such rubbish story lines couldstill be acceptable".One poster asked: "How could a show like Big Bang Theory have bothered you?"None of the three video-streaming sites could be reached for comment by AFP, andnor could the government body overseeing media, the State Administration of Press,Publication, Radio, Film and Television.In a notice in January it vowed to more "seriously implement a system in whichshows obtained approval before being broadcast", noting that some online contenthad been found to violate certain regulations after being broadcast and had to betaken down.