Hit show's suspension leads to widespread speculation

2014-12-30 02:24:28 GMT2014-12-30 10:24:28(Beijing Time)  Global Times

A popular history-themed TV drama that has caught the public eye with revealing costumes stopped airing Sunday, triggering wide speculation, with the station attributing the halt to "technical problems."

But analysts have said that the pause may be tied with China's media and television watchdog's strict regulation of revealing images in the media.

"TV drama The Empress of China will stop from Sunday on due to 'technical' reasons but will return to the screen on January 1, 2015," said the Hunan TV on its official Sina Weibo account on Saturday.

The highly anticipated TV drama began airing from December 21 exclusively on Hunan TV. It tells the life story of Wu Meiniang, who was the only female emperor in China who ruled for almost half a century during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

The show drew attention for putting its female actresses in elaborate - and revealing - costumes. The show's first episode broke records for TV drama viewers, with the actresses' low-cut dresses even giving a photographer a nose-bleed during shooting, reported news portal ent.163.com.

Many speculated that the racy scenes in the show also led the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) to call for a halt and a revision to the show, as the media watchdog issued a circular requiring video websites to remove headlines with text or pictures referring to sex and nudity in November. It also stipulated that programs depicting extramarital affairs, polyamorous relationship, one-night stands, sexual abuse, or containing pornographic content should be cut or deleted.

Video depicting rape, fornication, necrophilia, prostitution or masturbation should also be cut, said the SAPPRFT.

Separately, some insiders have said that the pause resulted from a SAPPRFT-imposed quota on historical dramas.

The regulator has stipulated that the number of historical dramas aired during primetime should not exceed 15 percent of the total in 2013.

Zhuang Xihai, a former producer who is now a professor at Southwest University, told the Global Times that the media watchdog's vague definitions for TV drama approval has led to previous cases where TV dramas were pulled off the air after being released.

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