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Shanghai to Regulate Online Video Sites

SARFT, 12/10/07

The Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film & TV has convened a city-level conference regarding the online broadcasting of audio and video programs. The conference was aimed at addressing the current situation where only 6 out of a total of 600 Shanghai-based online broadcasting websites have an online broadcasting license. Specific requirements were raised concerning the issuing of licenses, the improvement of program monitoring, using the law to combat infringers and creating a positive environment for the development of online culture. The Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film & TV will increase its monitoring of online audio and video broadcasts, focusing its efforts on websites that broadcast foreign content, and supporting legal websites while cracking down on illegal ones.

LENS: The 6 companies in Shanghai that do have a license are SMGBB, Dragon Mobile, BesTV, Oriental Cable Network, Eastday.com, and Shangguangdian, all SMG-related companies. Those Shanghai-based online video sites without a license, particularly those which are privately owned or VC-funded, such as PPLive and PPStream, operate in a potentially risky gray area. SARFT has initiated several earlier crackdowns on online video sharing sites and "online TV stations", mainly related to illegal broadcast of self-produced news without a news license, pornography, and other types of unauthorized content (see "SARFT to Regulate Online Video," MW 6/08/07 issue, and "SARFT Renews Crack Down on Illegal Online Video Sites," MW 3/16/07 issue). However, the reason the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film & TV gave for the current crackdown was the need to regulate foreign content.

In the partner list on its site, PPLive features CETV, ESPNStar, Xingkong (a Chinese-language channel under Star Group), and Viacom's MTV, with videos from these foreign TV channels shown on its site. PPStream also features links to and streaming downloads of a wide variety of foreign films and popular TV dramas, such as Prison Break. However, if local authorities decided to bring these sites in line, requiring the removal of all foreign content, they would likely be flooded by complaints from tens of thousands of angry netizens. Accordingly, this round of regulation is likely to mirror earlier campaigns, cracking down on just a few of the most blatant violators, giving warnings to a few of the other larger sites, and continuing to discuss new ways to exercise greater control over the industry.

Keywords: Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture Radio Film & TV Shanghai online video online broadcasting regulation license foreign content internet television

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