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Chinese TV Shows ‘V For Vendetta,’ Prompts Censorship Reform Discussion

Of all the movies that you would expect to be screened by China Central Television, the state-run broadcaster known for government censorship and propaganda, one that announces that “people should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people” wouldn’t necessarily be high on anyone’s list. And yet, last week, V For Vendetta was shown in full to the surprise of many.One of the reasons that the broadcast of the 2005 movie about a masked political activist working to undermine the state and incite revolution on the streets of a future London, adapted from the Alan Moore and David Lloyd comic series, was unexpected was that many believed that the movie had been banned in China. Certainly, it wasn’t released to Chinese movie theaters, although that appears to be more due to an annual limiting of foreign movies than any attempt at censorship; the movie had, after all, been available via Video on Demand services prior to the CCTV screening (but not, interestingly enough, on officially-released DVD or Blu-ray), and Wu Baoan of the country’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television told the Huffington Post that he wasn’t aware of any ban on the movie.

That the movie was broadcast has led some to predict that it heralds a loosening of media control and authoritarian censorship under newly-named General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping; Xi was elected to the post last month, and has since issued calls for economic reform and a reduced size (and role) for government. It may be that CCTV made the decision to screen the movie to test the waters for a new, more open era of content.

Over the weekend, Chinese social media reflected the surprise of the screening, with one comment on Sina Weibo asking “What to think, is the reform being deepened?” A spokesperson for CCTV said that, in her mind, it was “no big deal” however, and that the network “didn’t anticipate such a big reaction.”

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