BEIJING - Chinese video streaming websites have removed four legally licensed US television shows in a move that could portend “stricter online monitoring”, state-run media reported Monday. “From Saturday, popular shows ‘The Big Bang Theory’, ‘The Good Wife’, ‘NCIS’ and ‘The Practice’ were no longer available on, and,” the Global Times said, referring to three popular services and adding that the series were “all purchased legally for viewing in China”.

China closely censors all media, from newspapers to foreign films to microblogging posts, in a vast effort to control public discourse and avoid sensitive topics that could undermine the Communist authorities’ grip on power.  But it was unclear why these shows, which did not have excessively political or sexual themes that might be considered inappropriate, were removed.