24's return fuels hope for China's TV fans
Updated: 2014-05-14 07:22
By Liu Wei (China Daily USA)
Diehard Chinese fans of 24, the American TV series on security agent Jack Bauer's attempts to negate violent plots against his country, are celebrating the start of a new season.
The ninth and latest season titled 24: Live Another Day returned to the small screen on May 5, local time, in the United States.
China's leading video portal Youku hosted the promotional campaign "24 Hours for 24", during which about 200 fans watched all of Season 8 across three theaters in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
The screening lasted for about 24 hours, starting at 5 pm on May 5. Fans then watched the first episode of Season 9.
All episodes of the thriller, produced by Fox network, are now available on Youku.com.
The rejoicing over 24 comes a few days after Chinese video websites stopped streaming four popular American TV shows, including The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife.
Wei Ming, president of Youku.com, refuses to comment on the decision to stop streaming the shows but says his company will continue to provide quality content to viewers.
Officials of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, China's regulator of the industry, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Some Chinese netizens had speculated that the content of the shows hadn't been properly censored earlier.
But a staff member at Youku disagrees.
"Video streaming sites, including Youku, have their own teams to examine content before streaming and it is helped by certain search technologies," the staff member says on condition of anonymity.
"So far, we haven't received any further orders to tighten content control."
Internet analysts, however, view it in a different light. They say video websites are under the supervision of multiple governmental institutions, such as the SAPPRFT, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
"It is more like a gesture by the SAPPRFT to claim its sovereignty over the websites," says Ge Jia, an expert who has tracked China's online evolution over the past 15 years.
State-run China Central Television will soon broadcast Game of Thrones, an American TV drama that shows explicit violence and sex scenes, he says.
Purchas Zhao, 30, an Internet engineer who participated in Youku's 24 event at a Beijing threater, hopes the banned shows will return.
In 2006, Zhao was a college student preparing for an English certification test when he was first drawn to 24. He failed his exam. The following summer, he watched all of the episodes of 24 and scored higher marks on his next test. His listening score doubled.
"China's video websites buy the copyrights and release legitimate content. I do not think authorities will ban them and force us to download illegal content," Zhao says.
All episodes of the American TV thriller 24 are now available on Youku.com.
(China Daily USA 05/14/2014 page9)