China clamps down on Web video

The Chinese government has ordered a crackdown on online video and audio content which could result in a tightening of internet censorship and limit the broadcasting of western films and entertainment programmes on the web.

In a notice published on its website earlier this week, the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (Sarft) published a long list of video and audio content that it declared illegal. The statement warned Internet companies that they must edit or erase such content.

In addition, it said that foreign films, television series, cartoons and other TV programmes could be broadcast on the internet only after the site operator obtains an individual licence for the respective programme.

It was unclear whether the move was part of an overall effort to tighten control over the internet or was motivated by an attempt to block a back door for foreign entertainment content into the Chinese market. China has several authorities involved in Internet censorship and regulation, but Sarft is not normally one of them.

The list of banned video and audio content ordered Internet companies to edit or erase video content that "maliciously damages the image of the People's 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 follows the blocking of YouTube in China after users uploaded videos to the site that appeared to show a man being tortured by security forces in Tibet.

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