When it comes to intensifying controls on online content, the people have once again spoken. Or so claims China’s broadcast regulator in an action announced earlier this week, demanding that two of the country’s most popular media platforms, live-streaming app Kuaishou (快手) and Jinri Toutiao (今日头条), a news aggregator, put a freeze on video uploading services for new account holders and be subjected to a purge of existing programs.
In a notice posted to its official website and WeChat account on Wednesday, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) — which is due to be dissolved into a new National Radio and Television Administration under an institutional restructuring plan revealed last month — said it was prioritizing action against the platforms to respond to “fierce attention in public opinion from society about programming at the Jinri Toutiao and Kuaishou sites that violated social morals.”
Both services, in fact, were the target of criticism in Chinese state media in the days leading up to the SAPPRFT announcement for such issues as false and misleading advertising, and China Central Television’s “Economics Half-Hour” (经济半小时) program ran a special report on alleged violations at Jinri Toutiao. The action announced Wednesday, in other words, has been building for some time.
According to the SAPPRFT notice, Jinri Toutiao and Kuaishou will be subject to the following “rectification measures” (整改措施):
- Comprehensive inspection of existing stored programs, with immediate pulling offline of indecent (低俗), violent (暴), bloody (血腥), pornographic (色情) or otherwise harmful (有害) programs.
- Ceasing of all new accounts with video uploading functions, and comprehensive review of all existing accounts. Suspension of uploading functions or indefinite blocking of all accounts that have uploaded harmful or illegal programming.
- Investigation of the responsibility [liability] of website reviewers and managers in cases of broadcasting of content that it illegal.
- The uploading of vidoe programming must immediately be reduced to a scale fitting to the capacity of review and management (网站审核管理力量相匹配的规模), ensuring that no programs are broadcast that have not been reviewed.
More information about the move by SAPPRFT is available at Caixin Global and SCMP.