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China Censors "The Big Bang Theory" and Other Streaming Shows 166

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-officially-reinstate-anything-can-happen-thursday. dept.
dryriver (1010635) writes in with news that the Chinese government has had enough of the antics of doctor Sheldon Lee Cooper. "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, senior staff from two sites said Sunday. The move suggests 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 sitcom The Big Bang Theory, political and legal drama The Good Wife, crime drama NCIS and legal drama The Practice."
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China Censors "The Big Bang Theory" and Other Streaming Shows

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  • Well judged (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:14PM (#46854999)

    All terrible shows that the world could do without.

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:22PM (#46855051)
    They're such a large market, though, so will we see television programmers tipping to the Chinese government's caveat?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:23PM (#46855053)

    From CBS blocking me from watching it in the UK?

  • by turkeydance (1266624) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:31PM (#46855091)
    no China trip this year.
  • by arielCo (995647) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:47PM (#46855177)

    The Chinese Ministry of Culture reports a 3-point increase in the average urban IQ.

    • by jellomizer (103300) on Monday April 28, 2014 @10:08AM (#46858613)

      Please explain to me what is or has been on TV, that is actually smart TV?
      Almost all public media that lasts more then one season (TV/Comic Books/Radio/Popular Blogs...) in general are made so someone with an 8th grade education will be able to get it. That is where the money is in. And if you get too much past that then viewers will drop.

      Why 8th grade? Well that marks an end of a students general education and they begin specializing. Some kids take more electives in the Math and Sciences, others towards Art and Music, and others go to Writing and Literature. Then when they get into college they will focus down on a particular Major, Grad School they will begin to focus down further in a particular topic in that Major. Then finally PHD where you focus on one thing in that topic.
      Because people get specialized it gets harder to market Smart broadcasts because you start weeding out people who haven't studied much in that particular topic and will not get it.

      If you want to get informed on a topic without schooling you will need to go to more geeky places on the internet. Read the academic Journals, Find mentors who are experts to help you out. But for general media, you will just get the overview that a 13 year old will be able to understand.

      • by arielCo (995647) on Monday April 28, 2014 @11:00AM (#46859315)

        I could mention a few things that I've enjoyed, but for every show there's a crowd that'll deem it too crass, too silly, or not smart enough; and then there are those who simply enjoy lamenting the state of things.

        Anyway, there's dumb, dumber and dumberer. There's something to be said against a show that can be recognized at a distance by the train of canned laughter pulses (yes I know, "filmed in front of a live audience", just like your gummy candy is "made with real fruit").

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:47PM (#46855179)

    Excellent movie, but it was missing almost all references to the banking system and TARP funds. For example, the entire scene at the end, where Derek Jeter hands them documents regarding banking fraud (their "next case"), was cut. The info graphics credits sequence omitted everything but the Ponzi scheme part (but it wasn't just cut off after that; the credits continued with the part after the info graphics). You can view the sequence on Youtube, but that's not complete either: It's missing the AIG and TARP bits.

    So China bans Big Bang Theory. What is being hidden from you?

  • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @06:54PM (#46855201) Homepage Journal

    American companies stream movies to China.
    But they don't do the same thing to Europe (Game of Thrones as an example).
    How is that even billed? And now we have an uproar that China is censoring it.
    Wow ... I would like to have an uproar that we are forced to pirate movies because they get published here (in Europe) months if not years after they were made ...
    I'm fed up with movies/books being available in Europe months or years after they where made, for what ever reason ...

    • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by LordLimecat (1103839) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @08:49PM (#46855721)

      Dont kid yourself: You arent "forced" to pirate it, you choose to because you want the content they produced but dont want to play by their terms.

      Maybe that doesnt bug you, but at least be honest about it.

      • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mjwx (966435) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @09:14PM (#46855829)

        Dont kid yourself: You arent "forced" to pirate it, you choose to because you want the content they produced but dont want to play by their terms.

        Dont kid yourself, when people find terms unreasonable, casual copying becomes justifiable.

        Ultimately piracy is a delivery problem, not a legal one. Here in Australia if I want to watch Game of Thrones I need to pay Murdoch A$70+ a month and have to do it on Murdoch's time table. Both of these are unacceptable to me. So downloading it is the only acceptable option remaining.

        The old system used by HBO and Murdoch's Foxtel is dying a slow death. People dont want to wait for shows to be on, they want to watch them at their own leisure nor do they want to have to pay for 30 channels of bullshit to get 1 show. Piracy isn't a scourge on humanity as Murdoch et al. would like to perpetuate, it's merely the market reacting to conditions they find unacceptable. If you want to see piracy of your show plummet, make it available through as many channels as possible for a reasonable price. The easiest way to do this is to allow anyone to resell it for a flat (per copy) license fee that people will accept.

        However they want to continue to prop up outdated ideas like exclusivity. So they will have to accept that piracy is an acceptable alternative.

        • by cyberchondriac (456626) on Monday April 28, 2014 @01:03PM (#46860599) Journal

          Dont kid yourself, when people find terms unreasonable, casual copying becomes justifiable. Ultimately piracy is a delivery problem, not a legal one. Here in Australia if I want to watch Game of Thrones

          Note that your key word here is "want".. not "need".
          And what people find unreasonable is certainly a subjective decision which will vary with individual and circumstance, and therefore falls anywhere from meaningful to meaningless. It is deemed justifiable only if you feel you are somehow entitled to the content they created and distribute.
          I just wait for GoT to come out on BluRay, and buy it for $35 on Granted I'm a year behind this way, but I'm not paying for the extravagance that is HBO and other channels in a forced Comcast package for just one series. I still get to watch it though, without rationalizing not paying for it.
          Not that I'm doing an anti-piracy rant, I'm not, I've done it myself before, when I was younger. I just don't believe in trying to rationalize it.

      • Re:So? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Windwraith (932426) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @10:01PM (#46856011)

        Yes, there's no "need" to pirate per se. But in several cases getting that content legitimately, in Europe, is close to impossible. We are not talking just "delayed release" as the parent poster said, we are also talking about stuff that never, ever, is released commercially in Europe or regions of Europe for whatever reason. Not to mention some European countries like Spain do everything in their power to prevent you from legally purchasing products from other regions, or at least make it much more expensive than it should.

        This is different as don't wanting to play by their terms, this is literally having no terms to play with in several cases. And I understand his sentiment, it's a big deal when China can't have those, but when Europe doesn't have US-produced content, shows or articles, nobody gives a damn and we even get called out on pirating stuff we can't purchase without being rich. Please.

        Maybe that doesn't bug you, but it's a thing that happens, believe it or not.

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @10:43PM (#46856199)
        The content is "advertised" (usually officially) and not available for purchase, at any price. They are enticing you to watch it, then refusing to make it available. That's "forcing" someone to pirate it. Their terms are simple. "you can't have it" but they still suggest and advertise it.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 28, 2014 @06:26AM (#46857341)

          Copyright is a legal right to monopoly on the distribution of certain media (intellectual property). If they choose to advertise but not release then they are within their legal rights, and those that infringe copyright are disrespecting these rights.

          Don't get me wrong, I believe that copyright law itself is unethical, but under no circumstances does your scenario "force" people to infringe copyright. If you don't like the effective censorship, then resist copyright in it's totality rather than being a hypocrite.

      • by fazig (2909523) on Monday April 28, 2014 @03:12AM (#46856979)
        Certainly you aren't forced to pirate it per se, but you can feel compelled to.
        When I try to access HBO GO I can read this: To access HBO GO, you must reside within the fifty states of the United States of America. If you reside in this area and are still experiencing difficulties, please contact your television provider.
        So I use proxies to 'bend' the rules. HBO does get money from me but technically I committed tax fraud and violated local licences. This almost equals pirating it since the local license holder doesn't get his share and neither does the state. I caused them to suffer opportunity costs, which they calculate as financial damage, even though I would never have watched it on television there, but simply buy the BluRay to get the uncut version with the original audio tracks. But they don't care about that, they still perceive it as financial damage caused by a "pirate". You see, just because I paid HBO doesn't make it any more legitimate than piracy from the economical and legal point of view in my country.

        Other people simply say to themselves "fuck it, I'm simply going to download a ripped version off the internet" and do so.

        Now you might ask why do people do that? What's their motivation? Well the internet is a wonderful platform for communication around the world, national borders become almost irrelevant. I know people from all around the world, among them are US Americans, I consider them as peers and friends. I talk to them almost on a daily basis and on Mondays (from my timezone) I can't listen to them without getting hearing and reading spoilers of all your favorite TV shows. To fix that I basically watch the shows 'with them'. Doing so I play by the rules of HBO, but not by the rules of my country, and to be perfectly honest I couldn't care less. As I see it it's their fault to act like dinosaurs, unable to adapt to the circumstances, trying to change the rules, failing to realize that the internet will never bent to their will.
      • by rtb61 (674572) on Monday April 28, 2014 @05:13AM (#46857185) Homepage

        Yes, we are forced to pirate. A fair and reasoning sense of fairness applies with regard to all of the times we have been lied to about the quality of content and have been sucked into paying for shit. That sense of fairness demands that in response to being repeatedly defrauded as regards to the quality of the content being sold, we endeavour to recover non-refundable capital and also to ensure we are not again cheated in the future, we fully test out content prior to paying for it. If the content is sufficiently worth while as to justify a payment then it is made, less of course all of the times with have been cheated by falsely advertised qualities or prior purchased content. If you do not think that is fair, then I believe that you think it is reasonable to lie to people about the qualities of content in order to cheat them of their money, so screw you ;). Now that's being not only honest but fair and just.

      • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Monday April 28, 2014 @07:14AM (#46857465) Homepage Journal

        Ofc I'm forced to pirate it.
        GoT is not aired in germany when it is in USA. Nor is it available on DVD. And HBO is not streaming into germany either. So either I have to wait another year or ask a friend from the USA to give me a copy (which is strictly speaking not piracy and in fact legal, at least in germany).

    • by marsu_k (701360) on Monday April 28, 2014 @06:07AM (#46857313)

      But they don't do the same thing to Europe (Game of Thrones as an example).

      Huh. I guess that I get HBO Nordic (with full HBO backlog, excluding sadly Deadwood and Oz due to some ownership issues) and recent episodes the next day they're broadcast in the US with local subtitles on my smart-ish TV was just a dream. Oh wait, it wasn't, GoT day today.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:08PM (#46855265) Journal

    Three CBS and one ABC. Production companies don't align either.

    The shows themselves may not be objectionable, keep in mind. It may be payback or threat for other things, movies or something. In Iron Man 3, it's probable The Mandarin was converted from an evil actual Chinese guy to a lame cover story so as to not offend lest that and future movies be banned...or taxed extra hard.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:57PM (#46855495)

      Meh, I dunno, NCIS is pretty obvious US propaganda, although probably more aimed at aligning the views of americans to the will of the powers that be. Big bang theory, no idea why they decided to ban this. The two other shows, I dunno, never watched them but legal dramas tend to paint lawyers and cops as honest people with high standards for thruth and justice, some sort of idealised version of how america could be if it wasn't all corrupt, so I can see some propaganda value there.

  • Outsourcing (Score:5, Funny)

    by _Ludwig (86077) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:27PM (#46855333) Journal

    Hopefully we can get China to censor Big Bang Theory here in the U.S. too.

    • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx.b c . ca> on Sunday April 27, 2014 @08:16PM (#46855571) Journal

      One is compelled to wonder what the aversion to the show is that I see so prevalently on slashdot. Rr is the antipathy based on a sentiment that seems generally opposed to anything that might be categorized as pop culture... a notion that in my observation seems most prevalent among nerds in the under-30 crowd.

      For myself, I like the show... my wife introduced me to it in what I would discover was season 3, and she now routinely mentions to me that my "Sheldon is showing" whenever I start acting like a dick without really meaning to.

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @10:46PM (#46856215)

        One is that they do a pretty good job portraying various kinds of geeks. Since it is a comedy it makes light of unflattering and silly characteristics that those geeks have. Well, many people can't laugh at themselves. Real life Sheldon Coopers can't laugh at themselves any more than the character can, and thus the character would be something they don't like.

        Another is jealousy. The characters on the show have generally had a good deal of success in love, despite being geeky, with very pretty women. This is something that many of the real life geeks on Slashdot do not share. Hence, there is jealousy of the characters.

        Finally there is the hipster-ish anti-pop culture thing. That somehow, if something is popular, it can't be good. For many geek, part of the identity is being an outcast, being different, and liking different things. So liking something mainstream won't do at all for them, not because they don't actually like it but because it would conflict with their self identity.

        Personally, I think it is hilarious. Not quite as good as the IT Crowd, but I enjoy it and it makes me laugh regularly. Being that it is a comedy, that is all I can ask :).

        • by mamer-retrogamer (556651) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @11:05PM (#46856295)

          Mod parent up. I was about to post something very similar.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 28, 2014 @01:05AM (#46856685)
          I have watched a fair amount of The Big Bang Theory, but something I read put most clearly into words what bothered me about it: The Big Bang Theory's jokes are very often about humiliating its characters for being geeks/nerds. On the other hand, see Community, which, while it also makes fun of its characters, it lets them have geeky interests without making fun of them for it. The other not-funny-ness in The Big Theory is pretty much normal for sitcoms (e.g. the laugh track other comments are complaining about).
          • Absolutely.
            The poke in the eye is that when you hear about the show your first thought might be that finally, here's a show on TV that's actually taking note of who you are. Finally something on TV not dumbed down? Could this be like discovering 2am Open University programmes?? Another Monty Python?!

              Then you watch it... and as the bad laugh track comes in your heart sinks as you realise it's just another bad sitcom.

              It's the most popular show at work other than Game of Thrones. Sheldon is alright, but seems like a one man show.

            I guess this is the fault of TV in general; lack of specialisation. Other groups , such as old people have the same problem; nothing on TV for them to watch.

          • by sesshomaru (173381) on Monday April 28, 2014 @11:03AM (#46859347) Journal

            I watched a single episode of The Big Bang Theory. It was about a "Magic the Gathering"-esque contest between Will Wheaton (as himself) and Horrible Geek Guy (Sheldon?). It was obvious that none of the writers on the show had the faintest idea about how Collectible Card Games worked, just knew they were something competitive that gross nerds did. Seriously, the portrayal of a CCG was embarrassingly bad, kind of like that CSI Miami episode about Grand Theft Auto. (I'll admit, it didn't posit any theories that CCGs would cause you to go on a killing spree, but if you have to be a person like that Bazinga guy, why wouldn't you?)

            Anyway, Horrible Geek Guy gets his comeuppance for liking Star Trek and Collectible Card Games, so I guess justice was finally well-served to all those awful nerds out there.

            Who's up for a game of racket-ball or golf?

        • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday April 28, 2014 @01:56AM (#46856803)

          Actually, the reason I don't like BBT is that especially in the last few seasons, it's basically gotten mean. Penny calls the geeks losers, the geeks call Penny a loser, no one actually achieves anything, the geeky side of things is mostly there to get laughs on the basis of "look how anti-social and inept they are".

          So in short, it's not really geeky anymore, the humor is basically about insulting everyone right and left, and the people are basically flat stereotypes.

        • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx.b c . ca> on Monday April 28, 2014 @10:01AM (#46858533) Journal

          One is that they do a pretty good job portraying various kinds of geeks. Since it is a comedy it makes light of unflattering and silly characteristics that those geeks have.

          I have more than enough in common in my real with the character of Sheldon to be regularly compared to him in real life.... not only by my wife, but by other people who know me and also watch the show. At my last job, I had been there for only four days before somebody asked me if I watched BBT, saying that I reminded him a lot of Sheldon Cooper (except not quite as dickheaded). In all honesty, I probably would not have liked the character or the show when I was a lot younger, but I think I've mellowed out as I've gotten older and have learned to be able to find the humor in the things that I do that other people might find a bit... strange.

          Another is jealousy. The characters on the show have generally had a good deal of success in love, despite being geeky, with very pretty women. This is something that many of the real life geeks on Slashdot do not share. Hence, there is jealousy of the characters.

          If so, I think that may be a self-esteem and maturity issue... a sense that may be prevalent only among people who have not yet learned to accept themselves for who they are, and spend much of their lives thinking that there might be something wrong with them, rather than just embracing the kind of person they really are and making the most of that. Speaking from personal experience, that's exactly when love comes running right at you.... when you aren't in the least worrying about it, and are actually happy with who you are.

          Finally there is the hipster-ish anti-pop culture thing.

          That's seriously a lot of what I suspected it may be, actually. I'm not sure if there's a proper term for the phenomenon, but I do know quite a few people who are like that.

      • by scarboni888 (1122993) on Monday April 28, 2014 @07:28AM (#46857507)

        Nothing Is Any Good If Other People Like It.

      • by werepants (1912634) on Monday April 28, 2014 @04:34PM (#46862737)
        For myself, the real turn-off has been that this show has become the defining cultural reference for nerd-dom. That is, when I talk about something nerdy, mention that my background is in physics, or do some socially inept thing that reveals my nerd-hood, there's a very good chance that someone will bring up tBBT, either comparing me to Sheldon, or comparing the thing I'm talking about to an episode of the show.

        Really, I don't think there's anything wrong with the show - it is just annoying how much it defines nerd culture in the minds of the public. I imagine doctors feel the same way about medical dramas, and most people who have identities that correspond superficially with television characters are probably familiar with it. It's like talking about Will and Grace whenever you talk to a gay person, or The Cosby Show whenever you talk to a black person. It is annoying when people base their opinion of you on a fictional comedic character. (Especially when the assumption is that you personally love the show because it contains people "just like you")
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:28PM (#46855339)

    Maybe in the past, but the more we centralize everything, the more censorship-tolerant (and surveillance-tolerant) the internet becomes.

    It needs to move to p2p, strongly encrypted communication. If it doesn't, it will die under the force of organizations that don't want freedom of communication.

  • by GrahamCox (741991) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @08:07PM (#46855547) Homepage
    I wish Australia would ban these shows too, then maybe the free-to-air stations might have to get off their lazy arses and make some decent home-grown shows instead. It's no wonder the commercial channels are dying out here - lazy content, too many adverts far too often, horrible cheap-and-nasty titling graphics, constant pop-ups. It's unwatchable. They don't get it, and the sooner they die the better. Or they could, you know, improve.
  • by sshir (623215) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @10:12PM (#46856063)
    I suspect it's more like a form of protectionism. They can't slap some serious tariffs due to WTO or whatever. So in order to protect fledgling local production they do a form of bang-bang control: now you can watch that and now you can't.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @10:17PM (#46856083)
    ...they were only trying to cut out the parts that weren't funny.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 27, 2014 @11:19PM (#46856351)

    I keep thinking that Big Bang Theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the early development of the universe. The key idea is that the universe is expanding. The Big Bang model suggests that at some moment all matter in the universe was contained in a single point, which is considered the beginning of the universe. Modern measurements place this moment at approximately 13.82 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe.

    But in reality, the Big Bang Theory is an American sitcom created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, both of whom serve as executive producers on the show along with Steven Molaro.

  • by Suiggy (1544213) on Monday April 28, 2014 @12:19AM (#46856563)

    If you disagree, it's too late for you.

  • by thatkid_2002 (1529917) on Monday April 28, 2014 @12:31AM (#46856591)
    Big Bang Theory is terrible, and the rest are awful at best. Good Guy Chinese Government is saving their people from shitty shows.
  • by fremsley471 (792813) on Monday April 28, 2014 @05:25AM (#46857211)

    tBBT is quite rude in places. A repeated episode I saw last week had Penny suggesting that she was picked up by a guy in a bar, who then picked up another girl and they went off to have a threesome. Or Sheldon worrying Leonard about Penny being hypnotised by a male friend to 'make her think she's a chicken pecking seed' (moving his head back and forward). If you listen carefully, there are a lot of pretty close-to-the-knuckle lines like this.

    I have no problems with this, but am surprised it's so regularly repeated in the daytime here in the UK. Maybe it's because they don't swear? Perhaps that says a lot about the real concerns of censors.

  • by EzInKy (115248) on Monday April 28, 2014 @09:11AM (#46857999)

    Just that episode explains why I love Big Bang Theory, it is so much fun to laugh at yourself! Maybe I'm just not geeky enough to get offended?

  • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @07:03PM (#46873445)

    I dunno why China would want to censor NCIS. It depicts an armed federal agency violating the law and the Constitution with astonishing regularity and effectively with impunity (the Season 10 cliffhanger ending notwithstanding). From illegal wiretaps to illegal tracking to outright extrajudicial killings, it makes a mockery of law and order in the US. The Chinese government should be delighted.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.