A popular CCTV host's "improper remarks" that were caught on video at a dinner party have led to an investigation into the incident and a suspension of his programs.
The video, released online on Monday, showed host Bi Fujian using vulgar words about Chairman Mao Zedong while singing in the style of Peking Opera, enraging some netizens and causing a stir on the Internet.
CCTV said on its micro blog on Wednesday that it will investigate the incident, which it said many have found disturbing.
Bi's programs will stop being broadcast until at least Sunday, as his comments in the video have seriously damaged the broadcaster's image, Huaxi Metropolis Daily quoted a CCTV staff member as saying.
The CCTV employee said it is uncertain whether the programs can be broadcast again after Sunday, the report added.
Bi, 56, is popular for a hosting style that engages the audience. He has hosted the CCTV Spring Festival Gala since 2012, as well as a popular talent show involving Westerners speaking Chinese.
The cancellation was the first decision after Nie Chenxi was named CCTV president on Tuesday, the report said, adding that Nie had ordered all staff members to strictly correct work styles.
A micro-blogger named Zhou Junchi said that free speech doesn't mean it is OK to defame others, adding that Bi's comments were not proper for a popular host. Cheng Manli, a professor specialising in communication at Peking University, echoed Zhou, saying Bi should pay more attention to his behaviour and speech as a public figure.
"It does not mean we cannot share our opinions, but using ugly words and sarcasm to comment on Chinese leaders who have passed away is improper," Cheng said.
"The actions and words of celebrities are easily exaggerated in today's Internet era, which is transparent and can have a huge influence, so it is a must for the public figures to boost the quality of their speech and behaviour.
Otherwise, their images will be affected, such as the stars who were recently punished for drug use," she said.
"Everyone should take responsibility for what he or she says in public and online. It's better, I think, to share different ideas in a normal way," she suggested. But she added that the party in the video seemed private, "so its release is also improper to some extent."
The video was recorded by someone sitting on Bi's right, but who it is and why the video was put online is unknown.