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China's SAPPRFT Tightens Regulations on OTT Set-top Boxes

Sohu Tech, 2/09/15

China's State Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) has tightened its regulations on over the top (OTT) Internet TV set top boxes (STB) with several manufacturers failing to gain approval over the last several months.

Reportedly, there have been two main grounds on which STBs have been denied approval: inclusion of a USB port, for which it is deemed to have failed to adequately prevent installation of third-party applications; or inclusion of an app store for which each app has not been individually approved.

According to an employee at one STB manufacturer, even if SAPPRFT approves the application for a new box, the maker must still wait for the administration to issue serial numbers. A company would be taking a policy risk if it attempted to sell its STB without a serial number. The number of applicants for STB approval is currently quite high, and a very small number have managed to get approval, but almost none have been issued serial numbers.

According to public information, only Shanghai Media & Entertainment Group subsidiary BesTV New Media (600637.SH) has received the serial number for its partnership with US tech firm Microsoft on the localized version of the Xbox One gaming console, allowing it to be sold as a an OTT STB.

Editor's Note: For more background on this topic, please see "Update: Microsoft's Xbox One Launches Online Streaming Service in China" MD 1/20/15 issue.

Keywords: television Internet TV SAPPRFT OTT regulation set-top box


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