The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s top broadcast regulator, has ordered three major media websites to stop streaming audio and video content in violation of state regulations, citing concerns over their hosting of political content. The websites targeted in the latest campaign of an ongoing crackdown on online news media and streaming services are microblogging giant Weibo, online video site AcFun, and news portal Ifeng.com. Reuters’ Lee Chyen Yee reports:
China has told three major web portals to shut down their video and audio streaming services, saying they carry politically-related material that breaks state rules and social commentary which incites negative opinions.
[…] It did not give any specific timeframe for when these programs should be taken down and whether the move was permanent.
“This will provide a clean and clear Internet space for the wide number of online users,” the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television said in a brief statement on its website.
[…] Weibo Corp said it was communicating with relevant government authorities to understand the scope of the notice and will also evaluate the impact of the government’s move on its operations and its administrative options. [Source]
More details on the SAPPRFT order and context on recent efforts to tighten control of online content from Han Wei at Caixin Global:
The three companies don’t have licenses for online video and audio services and provided “rule-breaking” contents on political and social issues and commentaries that “advocate negative voices,” the agency said. The websites were ordered to go through “thorough rectification” and “create a cleaner cyberspace,” the regulator said, without specifying how long the ban will last.
The streaming ban is Chinese regulators’ latest move to tighten oversight of internet content. Earlier this month, dozens of accounts on Tencent Holdings’ popular social media platform WeChat were shut down for publishing “defamatory content,” according to the Cyberspace Administration of China. Among the accounts closed were those of Harper’s Bazaar and the celebrity gossip weekly owned by Southern Metropolis, one of the nation’s largest media groups. In May, the internet regulator ordered five major website operators including Sina Corp., Tencent Holdings Ltd., NetEase Inc., iFeng and Phoenix Television to immediately cease live news broadcasts on their sites.
[…] AcFun, one of China’s largest video-sharing site, said Thursday night in its official social media account that the company will tighten management of video and audio programming and will carry out required rectifications. [Source]
Coverage of the order from state-affiliated tabloid Global Times quotes Chinese communications expert Luo Ping saying, “[This] is another government move to strengthen its control on politics and social affairs on the Internet. The regulation will not shut down all their video content, but only to better regulate the Internet and further promote the country’s reform.”
Amid a tightening of regulations on online media that some commentators suspect are being carried out to “ensure political security” in the lead-up to the 19th Party Congress later this year, more than 60 popular public social media accounts focusing on entertainment news and celebrity gossip were shuttered earlier this month. Also earlier this month, SAPPRFT issued an order that broadcasters distribute programs “promoting core socialist values,” including a list of the type of content that should be “forcefully opposed.” On June 3, Reuters’ Matthew Miller and Min Zhang reported:
A key Chinese regulator has issued a notice demanding broadcasters distribute programs that promote “core socialist values”, and “forcefully oppose” content that celebrates money worship, hedonism, radical individualism and feudal thought.
Read more on the recent consolidation of government control over online news, and on the Party’s tightening of propaganda standards, via CDT.