Caixin
Dec 20, 2016 06:17 PM
POLITICS & LAW

Press Authority Restricts Online Video Circulation on Social Media

(Beijing) — China's press authority has tightened its scrutiny of online audio and video content, forbidding users of social-networking platforms from reposting individuals' political news or commentary.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) said in a document last week that the move is to "normalize the order of online video and audio content and enhance the regulation of visual information circulated on social media, including Weibo and WeChat."

Sina Weibo and WeChat are the most popular social network platforms in China, with 297 million and 805 million active users respectively. Individuals can post text, pictures, video or audio for others to share.

The latest regulation also bans users from sharing unauthorized films and TV series on social platforms.

Starting in 2014, Chinese video sites had to remove episodes of popular programs such as The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife if they hadn't passed SARFT reviews. But ingenious netizens then stored the video on shared drives and passed along links to the videos through private messaging and social media apps.

The latest move to clamp down on audio and video content comes after the government tightened control over the video industry several times this year.

In July, the Ministry of Culture released a list of "violator" video platforms that have allegedly been involved in violence, pornography and other activities deemed unhealthy.

In September, SARFT ordered live video streaming services — plus those who use them to broadcast news or comment on current affairs — to apply for licenses.

But implementation has been slow. One video news production company has been running without an accreditation for months. And that is common in the industry because obtaining license takes time, a person close to the company told Caixin.

Contact reporter Coco Feng (renkefeng@caixin.com)

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