China tightens online video controls, jolting investors

Tammy Harvey
June 24, 2017

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT), China's top broadcast regulator, has ordered three major media websites to stop streaming audio and video content in violation of state regulations, citing concerns over their hosting of political content.

China's Internet shares tumbled after news of the clampdown with Weibo Corp's down 9 percent, while SINA Corp, which has a stake in Weibo, fell 6 percent.

It has been reported by Shanghai's China Business News that the ban does not cover personal videos.

Weibo said it was communicating with relevant government authorities to understand the scope of the notice.

Sin Weibo, which surpassed Twitter in market capitalization earlier this year, lost about US$1 billion (€900 million) in value on the NASDAQ exchange following the move. AcFun is a video-sharing site that is popular with young Chinese. The statement comes after revised regulations granting the government even more control took effect less than a month ago.

"In general, I think the network does require some governance", said one commenter.

Beijing holds a tight grip on its internet space, banning content that is deemed politically threatening or jeopardizes the national image of the country. They had fallen as much as 10.8% in morning trade.

"It has been like this for a few years now", Liu said. "But the way they are doing it just shouldn't be so absolute".

While the move is likely to send a chill through China's booming online entertainment industry, analysts expect the country's social media providers will be able to adjust to a tougher regulatory environment although with more limited content offerings.

The country's internet regulator in August ordered all websites to start round-the-clock monitoring of content, holding editors personally responsible for "problem" content not in line with official narratives issued by the government. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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