One of China’s Longest-Running and Most Popular Talkshows Suddenly Cancelled

The popular Chinese talk show “Behind the Headlines” (锵锵三人行), that was broadcasted by Phoenix TV since 1998, has been suddenly terminated. The name of the show itself has become a ‘sensitive’ and censored term on Weibo since September 12.

One of China’s most successful and long-lasting talk shows has suddenly been canceled after nearly 20 years.

Without further official statements, the TV show announced its termination on its Weibo channel on September 12:

Because the company’s programs have been adjusted, we will stop broadcasting. Thank you for the many years. Hope to meet again.

The announcement was soon shared over 31,000 times on Weibo.

“Behind the Headlines” (锵锵三人行) is a talk show by Phoenix TV (FengHuang) that is hosted by presenter Dou Wentao. The program has broadcasted every week day since 1998, inviting two guests on every episode.

The program is characterized by its unpretentious language and discussions, featuring easygoing discussions over the headlines and hot topics of the day/week. According to Phoenix TV, the show is meant to be “thought-provoking, interesting and relevant to our daily lives.”

Fans of the show mostly appreciated this open dialogue and the fact that guests often tend to disagree – triggering some lively discussions about topics that were sometimes somewhat politically sensitive.

In the past, the show also hosted guests from Hong Kong with a critical stance towards Chinese politics.

After the show’s cancellation was announced on Weibo, its title was marked as a ‘sensitive term.’ Searches for the show’s name were prohibited on Sina Weibo, just showing the phrase: “Relating to existing laws and policies, these search results cannot display.”

As reported by Sina News, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) already issued a notice in June of this year to shut down the online video services of Phoenix TV and other media outlets for not complying with state stipulations on audiovisual content and for promoting negative views and comments on society through their program.

At the time, Phoenix TV openly stated they “humbly accepted [this] criticism” and promised to alter their show’s content to meet existing guidelines. Nevertheless, the show’s cancellation comes within three months after this announcement.

 

“A sudden goodbye, but I will cherish the memory forever.”

 

On Weibo, many netizens are disgruntled with the cancellation. “There are so many shows I cannot listen to anymore, so many shows I cannot watch anymore, and now I even need to register on Weibo with my real name!”, one person said.

“I will have to get used to the days without this show airing,” another netizen commented on Weibo: “What a shame, nothing will be able to replace it. A sudden goodbye, but I will cherish the memory forever.”

“This just makes me want to cry,” others said.

One Weibo commenter posted a long goodbye letter to the show, saying that its 5000 + episodes over these past 19 years have been especially important to those born in post-1970s and post-1980s China.

One netizen had another way to look at the news: “That a Chinese talk show has been able to survive for 19 years – that’s a miracle in itself,” they wrote.

Older episodes of the show can still be viewed on the ‘Behind the Headlines’ Youtube channel.

By Manya Koetse and Diandian Guo


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Author

About the author: Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

About the author: Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialised in China's cultural memory.

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