China Clamps Down on Webcasting by Weibo and Other Media Firms

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The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT), China's top broadcast regulator, has ordered three major media websites to stop streaming audio and video content in violation of state regulations, citing concerns over their hosting of political content. While the regulator didn't say in its one-line statement what precise actions should or would be taken, it was enough to send Weibo's stock sliding 6.1 percent in NY on Thursday.

Beijing tightly controls its internet space and bans content that it deems politically threatening or damaging to China's national identity. This means the only way for private companies to acquire the certificate is to buy a company that already has the certificate.

Sina Weibo announced late Thursday that users without the license are not allowed to upload audio-visual content, while other video services remain unaffected.

China has already moved to ban the country's internet portals like Tencent and Sina from conducting any independent journalism of their own, requiring them to post syndicated content from the state-run Xinhua news agency and state broadcaster CCTV instead. "The regulation will not shut down all their video content, but only to better regulate the Internet and further promote the country's reform".

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Weibo shares tumbled in NY on Thursday on news that Chinese authorities have imposed a video-streaming ban on the social network and two other internet platforms. "Now, they will feel even more nervous".

The Financial Times points out that Sina Weibo invested in a video streaming site last November and counts on live stream advertisements to make money.

Weibo, AcFun and Ifeng.com are "broadcasting large amounts of programming that don't meet national standards and which propagate negative opinions on public affairs", the national broadcasting regulator said in a one-line statement posted on its website.

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