Posted by Joel Martinsen on Wednesday, April 1, 2009 at 12:15 PM
Watch out for netizen journalists
The State Administration of Radio, Film, and TV is going after Internet videos.
In a notice issued on March 30, the Administration emphasized its concern over vulgarity and listed various types of content that online video hosts should filter from their sites.
Part (1) of the notice is the standard list of illegal content found in regulations on film, books, and other cultural material: no splittism, cults, or disruptions of social order.
Parts (2) and (3) are tailored for the type of content that currently appears, to varying degrees, on Chinese video hosts. Here's a translation:
(2) Internet audio-visual program service providers must edit or delete programs that contain any of the following:
- Distortions of Chinese culture, Chinese history, and historical facts; distortions of the history of other countries, and disrespect to human civilization and the culture and customes of other countries;
- Disparaging or mocking depictions of revolutionary leaders, heroes, important historical figures, and major domestic and foreign literary works and their main characters;
- Disparaging depictions of the PLA, people's armed police, the PSB, or the judiciary; depictions of torture of prisoners or of the use of torture to extract confessions from criminals or suspects;
- Displays of arrogant criminal behavior, detailed depictions of criminal activity, exposure of particular investigative techniques, or leaks of the appearance and voice of witnesses or individuals whose identity should be protected;
- Calls for religious extremism, provocation of conflict between religions, religious sects, or between believers and non-believers, hurting the feelings of the public;
- Promotion of palm-reading, fortune-telling, fengshui, divination, exorcism, and other feudal superstitious activity;
- Mocking depictions of scenes of catastrophe, including major natural disasters, accidents, terrorist incidents, and war;
- Detailed depictions of promiscuity, rape, incest, necrophilia, prostitution, solicitation, sexual perversion, and masturbation;
- Depictions or suggestions of sexual activity, sexual process, sexual techniques, and excessive related physical contact;
- Deliberate displays in which private parts are only obscured by limbs or small coverings;
- Sexually suggestive or provocative content that leads to sexual thoughts;
- Promotion of unhealthy content including extramarital affairs, love triangles, one-night stands, sexual abuse, and wife-swapping;
- Use of "adult film," "pornographic film," "Cat III film," "hidden camera," "indecent exposure," and other provocative words and pictures in the program title or category;
- Intense scenes of murder, bloodshed, violence, suicide, kidnapping, drug use, gambling, and the occult;
- Excessively frightening images, text, background music, or sound effects;
- Detailed depictions of cruelty to animals, or the capture, killing, and consumption of protected animals;
- Content that violates personal privacy;
- Depictions of fighting, humiliation, and obscenity affirmatively or in a manner that invites imitation;
- Promotion of a negative or decadent outlook, world view, or value system, or deliberate exaggeration of the ignorance and backwardness of ethnic groups or social ills;
- Clips that SARFT has cut from films and TV shows or has prohibited from being broadcast;
- Content that violates the spirit of the law and regulations.
(3) Internet audio-visual program service providers must improve their program content administration systems and emergency response mechanisms by hiring well-qualified service personnel to review and filter content, with particular attention paid to online music videos, variety shows, film shorts, and animation, as well as "self-shot" (自拍), "hot dancing" (热舞), "pretty girls" (美女), "funny" (搞笑), "original content" (原创), and "netizen reporters" (拍客), to insure that program content does not violate the rules mentioned in parts (1) and (2) of this notice. They must also promptly handle netizen complaints and related matters.
SARFT's obviously been paying close attention to the wealth of programming on China's video hosts. However, it's what follows in part (4) of the Notice that has caught the attention of the mainstream media.
The Administration has reiterated its control of online programming by applying its current television and film approval process to series shown online. Given the lead time involved in obtaining permission, this provision has the potential to shake up the industry. From The Beijing News:
Major video websites said in interviews that the biggest effect of the Notice would be to limit the broadcast of imported TV series. According to the "permit system" stipulated in the notice, even if websites obtain broadcast rights directly from rights agents in the future, they will have a hard time broadcasting programs that have not previously been show in theaters or on TV. A manager at Tudou said that they are still in the process of reviewing the document, so for the moment it would have no material effect on the website.
OpenV's chief editor Yang said that he had only just read the Notice. He also said that copyright rules were indeed necessary for the Internet, particularly in the area of imported TV series. "However, the Internet really requires an ocean of content, and the approval process for TV stations is relatively slow. If we have to obtain the same permit as a TV station, then the timeliness of the Internet will be lost," Yang said.
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