Five years after it began airing interviews with death row inmates about to be executed, a controversial Chinese reality TV show has gotten the axe.
"Interviews Before Execution" took a while to catch the attention of the West, despite being a huge hit in central China's Henan province — and when it did, it caught plenty of flak from Westerners who thought it exploitative and cruel.
This week, China's state-run television station Legal TV Channel pulled the show, citing "internal problems," though the program had routinely attracted 40 million viewers.
The show, which mostly focused on those convicted of gruesome murders, was intended to deter violent crime, the Daily Mail reported, with interviewees picked based on how teachable their cases were.
During the interviews, some of them conducted just minutes before the subject was executed, the show's host Ding Yu often fielded personal secrets from the inmates, promised to convey messages to their families and weighed in on the correctness of the conviction, BBC News reported.
But even though the show is being taken off the air, its making has been spotlighted in a documentary exploring its making. Both the BBC and PBS International own the rights to it, and one BBC channel plans to air it next week.
According to ABC News, China executes an estimated 1,000 people every year — far more than any other country. Its death row inmates can be executed within a week of their convictions.