China Will Limit Internet Video to State Sites Jan. 31

Tod Hunter
BEIJING — The Chinese government has announced that it will begin restricting the broadcast of Internet videos to sites run by state-controlled companies effective Jan. 31. The restriction applies to items posted on video-sharing Web sites and requires ISPs to delete questionable content and report it to the government.

The new regulations were approved by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the Ministry of Information Industry and were described on their official websites Thursday.

The new policy requires websites that provide video programming — including user-uploaded video — to obtain government permits. Applicants must be state-owned or state-controlled companies. Permits must be renewed every three years and operators who commit "major" violations may be banned from providing online video programming for five years.

The new policy bans webcast video that involves national secrets, hurts the reputation of China, disrupts social stability or promotes pornography. ISPs will be required to delete and report such content.

"Those who provide Internet video services should insist on serving the people, serve socialism ... and abide by the moral code of socialism," the rules said.

According to Chinafilm.com, which is run by the state-run China Film Group, currently the majority of Internet video providers in China are private. It wasn't immediately clear how the new rules would affect Internet video providers with websites available in China that are based elsewhere.

The status of sites like YouTube, which is available in China and runs a Chinese-language Web site, remain in question. YouTube LLC, a subsidiary of Google Inc., didn't immediately respond to an email from reporters seeking comment.