Popular Chinese TV celebrity Bi Fujian will face "severe punishment" after making "disparaging" comments about Communist Party founder Mao Zedong, state media reported.
In April at a private dinner, Bi a talent show host on China Central Television, was videotaped singing a Cultural Revolution-era opera called "Taking Tiger Mountain" by Strategy, and adding his own commentary about Mao between lines. He referred to Mao using a vulgar Chinese insult and also sang "he has ruined us all."
The videotape went viral on social media sites and sparked an investigation by CCTV, where Bi had worked since 1989.
He has since apologized and been suspended by CCTV.
However, the China Discipline Inspection Daily, a newspaper under the party's anti-graft watchdog, said Sunday those “disparaging” remarks harmed Mao's image and represented “a serious violation of political disciplines."
The report released last week said the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television had ordered CCTV to deal with the matter "severely" and to "educate its entire staff" within the broadcasting system.
In a statement on his official microblog, Bi, 56, said he felt "extreme remorse and hurt" for the effect of his words.
"I sincerely offer my deep apologies to society. As a public figure, I will certainly learn a lesson," he said after the report was released.
CCTV did not immediately comment.
Calls to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television went unanswered Monday.
Angered by investigation
The decision to investigate Bi has generated much anger on the Internet, with many people saying he should not be rebuked. One Weibo poll found 80 percent of respondents said Bi should not apologize.
Mao, who died in 1976, remains a divisive figure.
His image adorns banknotes and his embalmed body attracts hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors each day in Beijing.
While the ruling Communist Party has acknowledged Mao made mistakes, there has yet to be an official accounting for the chaos of the Cultural Revolution or the millions of deaths from starvation during the 1958-61 Great Leap Forward.
Some material for this report came from AP and Reuters.