Information Industry Minister Wang Xudong revealed today that the MII and State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), with the approval of the State Council, will co-issue new rules governing the online audio and video industry in 2008.
The new rules will limit provision of online audio and video programming to majority state-owned firms. Companies meeting this and other pre-conditions, must then obtain a license from SARFT for the provision of audio and video content, followed by an Internet access permit from the MII (Editor's note: literally, a "Telecom Service Provider's License" - a broad term likely to mean an Internet Content Provider's License.)
LENS: The drafting of this regulation was started as early as 2006 (see "Ministries Brewing Online Video Regulations," MW 11/17/06 issue).
On December 29, 2007, the last working day of 2007 in China, SARFT and the MII co-issued the regulation. To read Marbridge's translation of the key parts of the regulation, please see SARFT, MII Co-Issue Online Video Regulation," Marbridge Daily 12/29/07 issue.
The regulation can be interpreted as giving SARFT lead authority in overseeing online video sites, while giving the MII a supporting role in monitoring and, for any sites deemed by SARFT to be in severe violation of the regulations, cutting off Internet access. In a telephone interview with Marbridge, a SARFT insider explained that a "higher central authority" had been behind the push to issue the new regulation.
While SARFT is unlikely to simply shut down all unlicensed online video sites, which would mean closing the majority of the sites currently operating, it is likely to monitor content more closely (with pornography and politically sensitive material of particular concern), punishing or closing down repeat offenders. SARFT has already established a team for monitoring online sites on a day-to-day basis, and has labeled several of the major sites as having a bad record.