Posted by Jeremy Goldkorn on Monday, June 23, 2008 at 12:05 AM
SARFT has published a list of 247 organizations that are "approved to host Internet audio-visual programs" in China.
The list includes privately-funded Youtube clones such as 6.cn and Ku6.com, and websites that do not yet exist, such as Sarft.com, which of course belongs to the industry regulator SARFT itself. Established Chinese portal websites such as Sina, Sohu, Netease and Tom also all have approval, as do websites that provide downloads of TV programs, such as PPlive.com and Uusee.com.
But conspicuously missing from the list are the Big Three of the Chinese Youtube clones: Youku.com, Tudou.com and 56.com. Although 56.com has been off line for nearly two weeks after an apparent porblem with the authorities, these three websites have the largest amount of funding of any video websites in China, most of it foreign. By most accounts they are also the most popular video sites in China.
But with CINIC reporting that there are 160 million users of online video, just under half of China's total online population, the regulators at SARFT have clearly decided that Internet video is a mass medium, capable of stirring the masses.
As a mass medium, uppity foreign-funded video websites are going to have a tough time until they can reach a mutually satisfactory accommodation with SARFT, and possibly other government organs.
The Big Three have famously large amounts of venture capital investment, something that SARFT is aware of.
SARFT may just let these websites run dry and expire. Or perhaps they will reach an accommodation soon enough to make sure some of the money, technology and know-how invested in Youku.com, Tudou.com and 56.com remains for the good of Chinese netizens, and for the Chinese government's own nation building purposes.
Links and Sources
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
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Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
Front Page of the Day
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From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.