Hit Chinese TV program Interviews Before Execution has been abruptly canceled—after five years on the air and just about a week of attention from the West. The show, which reached 40 million viewers every Saturday night, featured glamorous host Ding Yu speaking to condemned criminals days, hours, or even just minutes before their execution. Officials at China's Legal TV say the show, which just started popping up in Western press for the first time in advance of a BBC documentary on the show that aired last night, has been axed because of "internal problems," ABC reports.
Some 55 crimes carry the death penalty in China, but Interviews focused only on murderers. In an interview with the BBC, Ding denied that the program was exploitative. "Some viewers may consider it cruel to ask a criminal to do an interview when they are about to be executed. On the contrary, they want to be heard," she said. "Some criminals I interviewed told me: 'I'm really very glad. I said so many things in my heart to you at this time. In prison, there was never a person I was willing to talk to about past events.'"