Caixin
Nov 04, 2016 06:42 PM
POLITICS & LAW

China Tightens Rules Covering News Broadcasts on Live Streaming Sites

(Beijing) — China's internet regulator has ordered live video streaming services plus those who use them to broadcast news or comment on current affairs to apply for accreditation — the latest government move to tighten scrutiny over online content.

As of Dec. 1, scripts of all news or news-related videos streamed live on apps and websites should be first reviewed by a news editor hired by the streaming service, according to a set of regulations — the first of its kind — issued Friday by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC). The regulator has not announced requirements for news editors, and it is unclear whether they should be government-accredited journalists.

"Some platforms that lack accreditation to telecast news have broken current broadcasting rules," according to the regulation.

Currently, companies offering live video streaming services require only a business license.

China's growing live-video streaming industry has allowed ordinary people to earn hundreds of thousands of yuan and even rise to stardom, streaming events that include the mundane, such as eating dinner, and the eccentric, including swallowing maggots. Several Chinese apps allow viewers to tip streamers with virtual presents and let performers trade these tokens for cash, creating a multibillion-yuan industry based on virtual gift-giving. Industry information provider iResearch predicted that 312 million people will be hooked on live streaming programs by the end of this year.

But the nascent industry has been in the authorities' crosshairs in recent months. In August, the CAC ordered companies to hire teams to monitor live video content round-the-clock and take down offensive materials immediately.

"Some online live streaming platforms allow the broadcasting of content that contain pornography, violence, rumors and scams, which has violated core socialist values and has a negative influence on teenagers in particular," according to the regulations.

Live streaming companies are also ordered to set up what regulators called "a credibility system" for content creators, the CAC said. But the authority did not offer any guidelines to evaluate the quality of content, and it is unclear whether it was pushing for industrywide standards or for individual operators to use in-house rules to judge content quality.

Earlier crackdowns by the Ministry of Culture and other government agencies had prompted popular platforms, including Tencent-backed Douyu and Nasdaq-listed YY.com to announce strict rules that included a ban on eating bananas in a seductive manner during live performances.

CAC's latest rule only said streaming apps should blacklist performers found to be "breaking the newly issued rules."

Contact reporter Chen Na (nachen@caixin.com); editor Poornima Weerasekara (poornima@caixin.com)

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