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Streaming sites relaunch old American TV series as new regulation kicks in

2015-01-22 16:18 Xinhua Web Editor: Gu Liping

Several new American TV series have been removed from Chinese video streaming sites after a regulation that requires permits to air foreign films and TV series takes effect.

Streaming sites Sohu and Letv have taken down newly launched series such as "Agent Carter" and "Empire." While "Shameless," which has gone into its fifth season, also went off air.

It is yet to be seen whether other shows like "Gotham" and "American Horror Story," both of which were aired in 2014, will be affected.

Streaming sites are responding by re-releasing old American TV classics, which garnered huge audiences when they were released just over a half-decade ago.

Youku re-launched superhero drama "Heroes" while Sohu set aside a promotional banner for "Lost" and "Prison Break." Tencent, which recently became HBO's exclusive online content distributor, re-released "Sex and the City."

Though first aired on American TV networks seven or eight years ago, these TV series were among the earliest to gain recognition from China's American TV lovers. Some industry insiders say it is easier for such old TV series to pass the review of Chinese regulators.

According to the regulation released by China's media watchdog, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television last September, video streaming sites must get publication licenses for imported films and TV series if they want to broadcast.

The administration also asked streaming sites to register all foreign films and TV series they are running or plan to run to media administrative departments by March 31.

As a result, it will be difficult for streaming sites to air newly produced American TV series in China as they are released in the United States. Audiences will only be able to watch the show after the whole season has been released and passed review.

Sohu did not return phone calls Thursday seeking comment.

Younger Chinese audiences often complain Chinese TV programs are dull, resulting in more and more turning to foreign TV.

The first season of "Prison Break" garnered a weekly hit of 2.1 million, ranking third among Sohu's foreign TV shows. The first season of "Heroes" also ranked high on Youku.

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