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Cyberspace Officials Order Unqualified Portals to End Live News

By April Ma
China’s internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, has ordered five leading web portals to immediately cease live news broadcasts, saying the portals were violating the latest version of the nation’s 2005 News Information Service Regulations.  Photo: Visual China
China’s internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, has ordered five leading web portals to immediately cease live news broadcasts, saying the portals were violating the latest version of the nation’s 2005 News Information Service Regulations. Photo: Visual China

(Beijing) — China’s internet regulator has ordered five leading web portals to immediately cease live news broadcasts.

The order — covering live content billed as “newscasts” with “news anchors” and “livestreaming hosts” — was issued Monday by the Beijing branch of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) as part of a push to harness online content providers before a new internet law takes full effect next month.

Websites operated by Sina Corp., Tencent Holdings Ltd., NetEase Inc., iFeng and Phoenix Television were forced to revamp content after authorities said they were violating the latest version of the nation’s 2005 News Information Service Regulations.

The portals had failed to comply with a rule that took effect last week forbidding the dissemination of original news content on any website not affiliated with a state-approved news publication, such as a newspaper or magazine.

The portals’ newscasts also breached livestreaming oversight rules issued by the CAC in November. The rules say all scripts prepared for livestreaming news that is accessible via apps and websites must be previewed by an authorized news editor before broadcast.

Cyberspace authorities recently rolled out the broader regulations, which take full effect June 1, to encompass all online news content providers, including websites, apps, instant-messaging apps, blogs, social media accounts and forums.

As of June 1, every online content provider serving Chinese-mainland internet users will be required to obtain a cyberspace administration permit before being allowed to post news or news commentary.

The law also stipulates that online content providers must be legally registered on the mainland, and that every chief editor must be a citizen of the People’s Republic of China.

Tuesday’s action marks the second time in two months that China’s internet censors have shut down news and commentary shows linked to major news portals.

Several news-themed programs, including military and international affairs shows hosted by iFeng, Tencent, Sina and Sohu Inc., were ordered off the internet. Officials said the shows lacked necessary news publishing certificates.

The latest rules tighten CAC’s supervision of the online news industry. In August, the regulator ordered livestreaming portals to hire teams of round-the-clock monitors to watch live video content and immediately take down offensive material.

Contact reporter April Ma (fangjingma@caixin.com)


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