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Intrigue as mainland bans TVB historical drama "Beyond the Realm of Conscience ”

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Source: The Standard/Ming Pao/On.cc

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Popular TVB historical drama Deep in the Realm of Conscience cannot be shown on the mainland, sparking speculations that authorities across the border are further tightening their grip on the small screen. Observers believe regulators are unhappy either because the drama's leading actress, Nancy Wu Ting-yan, supported the Occupy movement or because the palace intrigues between emperors, concubines and maids could have a negative impact on viewers.

TVB's deputy general manager of program and production Felix To Chi-hak played down the rumors yesterday, saying he could not respond to all speculations as some were "imaginary." "There is also speculation about production costs," he said. "To be frank, we didn't encounter those problems, so I cannot comment." The series, co-produced by TVB and the mainland's Tencent Penguin Pictures, is set in Tang Dynasty China.

It is the sequel to the 2009 drama Beyond the Realm of Conscience, an acclaimed production which tells the story of palace maid Lau Sam-ho and imperial struggles. The theme continued in the sequel, which started with the overthrow of Empress Wei by Li Longji, who would later become the famous Tang Dynasty Emperor Tang Xuanzong. The sequel also features struggles among maids and concubines of the emperor. Tencent was supposed to play the show on its website from Monday, the same time as TVB aired it in Hong Kong. It did not happen and Tencent apologized without giving any reason for the no-show.

In 2013, state media criticized the popular series Empresses in the Palace, suggesting it might be corrupting moral standards. Its sequel Ruyi's Royal Love in the Palace - with an all-star cast including actress Zhou Xun - was completed but has yet to be shown. The genre has been hard hit after it was announced in March that regulation of the movie and TV industry would move from the State Administration for Film Radio Press Publishing and Television to be directly under the Communist Party's propaganda department. The party unit lays strong emphasis on shows' positive impact on the audience. A second possible cause is the casting of Wu in the drama.

Back in 2014, she appeared in Central during the Occupy movement and also posted a picture on Instagram with the caption: "I can feel unity tonight. I don't know what to say, but I hope there is a better future for Hong Kong." TVB's To yesterday dismissed all speculations - including those about Wu - as "imaginary." Asked if TVB would have to repay Tencent hundreds of million of yuan if the drama ended up banned on the mainland, To explained that TVB was in charge of the co-production's copyright and airing outside the mainland, while Tencent was responsible for the mainland part.

As long as TVB did not breach the agreed dates and air the episodes ahead of Tencent, it was free to do what it wanted with the drama in Hong Kong. As to when the drama would air in the mainland, To said he could not comment on behalf of Tencent but "there isn't any big problem involved."

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With the prohibition to screen this popular drama in mainland China it will have a great impact on the bottom line.

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geez they just tend to be so strict and ban everything...

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I can't believe they actually ban the show. It was doing so well in ratings and coproduced by a China company. So sad

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