The boss of a Chinese online video site said Monday he believes the sudden banning of four American TV shows does not represent a wider trend, though it's unclear why the shows were targeted.
"Give me back Sheldon," referring to the socially inept physicist on "The Big Bang Theory," was a popular refrain among social media users angry at the show's disappearance.
"I believe it's a stand-alone event and it does not represent the policy trend or change toward American TV shows," Charles Zhang, Soho CEO and founder, said on a conference call.
Adding to the mystery, a media and translation agency said Monday it was subtitling "The Big Bang Theory" for the state broadcaster, China Central Television.
An employee of Beijing-based CBM said they were translating the show and would return it to CCTV with captions in Chinese. The employee only gave his surname, Li, and referred to a statement posted on the company's website earlier this month that said the translation of "The Big Bang Theory" was under way and would be shown soon on CCTV.
Sohu's Zhang said he didn't know about the translation for CCTV, and said Sohu had exclusive online rights to the show in mainland China.
Beijing has in the past allowed video websites to operate with few of the restrictions that movie and TV broadcasters face, possibly to avoid stifling what was seen as a promising high-tech industry.
Video websites, with looser controls, show dramas and comedies from the United States, South Korea and Europe and their own programs. They were not required to submit programs for approval, which allowed them to get imported material on the air faster than TV stations.