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Online videos in China will be subject to more censorship, government regulators say


Chinese online programming fans may find their favorite shows subject to more censorship. Chinese visitors test the 3G wireless network at the P&T/Expo Communication China 2008 at China International Exhibition Center on October 21, 2008 in Beijing, China.


Feng Li

China's infamous Internet censorship is getting worse, and now popular online TV shows are feeling the heat.

According to a BBC report, Chinese video websites must pre-screen and censor all original online content - or face the consequences.

China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and its Internet Information Office appear to have been provoked by what it calls "vulgar content, excessive violence, and pornography" in online programming, reports the Associated Press, which suspects the move was made in response to the burgeoning original online programming industry.

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"Micro-films" and online dramas have gained considerable popularity in China, as an alternative to tightly-controlled television programming.

SARFT claims that the censorship move was made in response to "an outcry from Internet users and industry needs," although the regulator neglected to provide specific standards or penalties.

" It remains to be seen how SARFT intends to enforce these regulations, particularly in the case of user-generated content," speculated David Bandurski of the China Media Project. "Clearly, if followed to the letter, the “Notice” would require massive resources"

According to, this isn't SARFT's first flirtation with the censorship of online video - the regulator has been taking pot-shots at the growing online video industry for years.

Last year, SARFT barred television shows from portraying time travel, claiming the TV shows “casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics, and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation.”

C. Custer of Tech in Asia takes a less-than-rosy view of SARFT's latest censorship move: "Presumably this SARFT announcement means we can look forward to online programming quickly becoming as dull and lifeless as most television programming, which SARFT has been doing its damnedest to suck the fun out of for quite some time now."