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China Tightens Grip on Web Video

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The Chinese government issued an edict this week that all movies, TV shows and cartoons distributed over the Internet or on mobile must first get approval from censors. The new rules are an expansion of the oversight the The State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) applies to traditional media, and will impact Chinese web video sites that host content that was not approved to be shown in theaters or on TV but has become popular online.

According to Forbes: “Content involving religion, sex, violence, sensitive political issues, or perceived damage to national image, social harmony or interests — as always — could be banned or edited.” The new SARFT rules will make web distribution of U.S. shows such as Gossip Girl and Prison Break, as well as popular Korean and Taiwan shows, illegal.

The Chinese government clarified its rules governing web video last year, and in keeping with that upbeat tone, Victor Koo, founder of Chinese video site Youku.com, told The Hollywood Reporter that these latest rules, issued on March 30, are more of a “clarification” than something new. During a recent visit to NewTeeVee, Koo indicated to us that the Chinese government was loosening its grip on web video that it might have at one time deemed inappropriate.

The Financial Times notes that included in this round of clarifications is the rule that video sites must target content that “maliciously damages the image of the People‚Äôs Liberation Army, the armed police, the police or the judiciary, or which relates to the torturing of prisoners and the questioning and torturing of criminal suspects.” This particular wording follows recent actions by the Chinese government to block access to YouTube after a video was uploaded supposedly showing police brutality in Tibet.

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