Watchdog targets TV set-top box content

By Cathy Wong Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-25 0:43:01

Companies ordered to cease streaming videos from some online providers

Chinese media supervisors have ordered two Internet television set-top box providers in Shanghai and Zhejiang Province to cut off downloading channels for some streaming videos which are suspected to contain forbidden content.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television demanded in letters to Zhejiang-based Wasu Media Holding and Shanghai-based Bes TV to stop providing technical support to its subscribers to access programs provided by online video providers like Youku, Sohu and iQiyi through television, industry news portal reported.

The banned programs include overseas-produced televisions and movies, as well as foreign TV programs, which are allegedly pirated copies, or contain "politically incorrect" or pornographic content.

A Wasu spokesperson said in a press statement Tuesday that it has received an "examination request" for its products from authorities and that it supports the policy and will notify users to stop their subscriptions.

"We have always complied with the regulations since we obtained the Internet TV license," wrote the spokesperson. "We will make adjustments accordingly to help with the healthy development of the industry."

Bes TV could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Internet experts believe the television set-top box business will not be affected by the ban, but streaming sites may be struck by the indirect blow.

"The administration tries to supervise the Internet through set-top boxes as it is not within their remit," Xin Haiguang, a Beijing-based Internet expert, told the Global Times. He expects more providers to receive similar warnings.

A sales representative at a Shenzhen-based set-top box company told the Global Times that he thinks their business will not be affected. "The impact will be limited to the companies being banned," he said.

Video streaming site iQiyi responded that it will communicate with set-top box providers to make sure that the video content is law-abiding.

Dong Ran, a Shanghai-based lawyer, said the move is intended to protect the domestic entertainment business, as local programs are less competitive.

"The authorities have to prevent these programs from penetrating the mass market through home televisions," he said. "With rapid Web development in recent years, the growth of Internet video sites has gone beyond control."

China has commenced a campaign since April to "clean up" the Internet. Popular US TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, NCIS and The Practice have been removed from video streaming sites, while authorities claim they have copyright violations or contain controversial sexual or political content.

However, it was later reported that China Central Television will air an edited version of The Big Bang Theory, an extremely popular show in China, while video streaming sites including Sohu said they have purchased the copyright of the shows.

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