Political content may have prompted shutdown

BEIJING — China has blocked the Hong Kong-owned Sun TV network, possibly because of its politically outspoken talkshows, as the government continues to clamp down on sensitive content online and in the media.

Some of the content on the shows involved political reform, with occasionally explicit calls for a move toward multi-party democracy. China is ruled as a single-party state by the Communist Party.

This signal was cut down, but I don’t know the reason,” an employee at the network’s parent company, Sun Television Cybernetworks Enterprise in Hong Kong, told the Associated Press Monday. The employee, who identified himself as a company executive, declined to provide his name.

Sun TV was founded by Chinese talkshow celebrity Yang Lan and the channel is owned by Hong Kong-listed Sun Television Cybernetworks Enterprise. Its skeins are shown in Hong Kong and throughout Southeast Asia. Hong Kong has a high level of freedom under the terms of the deal giving the territory back to Chinese rule in 1997.

The country’s censors have become increasingly intolerant of shows and webcasts that deal with political issues and around 3,500 people have been held in a crackdown on online smut this year and thousands of websites closed. Some rights activists say the porn crackdown is also being used to clamp down on political dissent.

Facebook and YouTube have been blocked for many months by China’s vigilant authorities.

The editor of the only Chinese newspaper to interview President Barack Obama during his visit last month has also been demoted. When the president held a town-hall meeting with Chinese students last month, he attacked Internet censorship, but the Internet police blocked the forum from being broadcast nationwide.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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