The recent announcement of new directives from China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television prompted speculation that viewers frustrated with sterilised broadcast offerings might turn to online video instead. Penn Olson reports an apparent move to pre-empt this by tightening enforcement of licensing restrictions on streaming to television sets.
Smart TVs and other set-top internet-to-TV streaming boxes provide a bit of a challenge to China’s government, which prefers to control content carefully, especially the content that appears on televisions, since — unlike computers — nearly everyone in China has one. Internet video companies like PPTV have a license from the government that allows them to provide streaming video services to computers but apparently SARFT does not extend that to net-enabled TV devices, and in fact had expressly forbidden Chinese video companies to support that kind of streaming. PPTV ignored that order, and now they’re being warned that another incident of noncompliance could result in heavy fines, forced restructuring, or even the termination of their license to broadcast video on the internet (which would effectively destroy the company).
See also a possibly surprising—or possibly not—attack on SARFT’s TV content restrictions from Global Times.