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China's regulator blames "unhealthy images" for re-edited TV show

Updated: 2015-01-21 15:12

China's regulator blames

Screen shots after the show resumed broadcasting (below) and before it was taken off air (up). [Photo/Weibo]

BEIJING - A senior official from China's television regulator on Wednesday said "unhealthy images" are the reason a TV drama about the country's only known empress, Wu Zetian, was edited.

"We received many complaints from viewers after the TV series began airing, saying there were some unhealthy images for minors, among other problems," said Tian Jin, deputy director of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television at a press conference.

The administration investigated the TV drama and found that there were problems related to a lack of editing, Tian said.

Punishment was given in accordance with the law, and the broadcaster and producer were ordered to re-edit the drama before bringing it back to TV, according to the official.

The drama, "The Empress of China," also known as the "Saga of Wu Zetian," began broadcasting on Dec. 21, 2014, but was pulled off the air a week later by commercial satellite station Hunan TV for "technical reasons."

Many speculated the suspension was punishment by the country's television regulators for the program's much-discussed revealing costumes, which featured low-cut necklines and prominent breasts.

The drama returned on New Year's Day without the actresses' cleavage, showing only close-ups of the characters' faces.

Administrative TV regulators at the national and provincial levels are responsible for vetting and licensing TV dramas in China, which is also common international practice, according to Tian.

The officials said the re-edited version has been well received by viewers, though there has been some discussion online.

"Our artistic works, films and TV dramas should all promote China's core values and pass on positive energy and good and true ideas," Tian said.

Wu Zetian, China's only recorded empress, was initially a concubine to Emperor Taizong in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). When he died, Wu married his successor, Emperor Gaozong, and ruled the country in her own right after Gaozong suffered a stroke.

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