China’s media watchdog has ordered two internet TV set-top box providers to bar pre-installed video streaming apps suspected of inappropriate content.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) sent letters to Zhejiang-based Wasu Media and Shanghai-based Bes TV to cut access to programs from online video providers such as Youku, Sohu and iQiyi, National Business Daily reported Thursday.
In April, Wasu Media teamed up with Alibaba in the TV set-top box business through Tmall Box.
SARFT has criticized Wasu for pre-installing video streaming content apps such as iQiyi and Sohu TV in its set-top boxes.
The apps contain pirated copies of overseas-produced television shows and movies and feature “politically incorrect” or pornographic material, the report said.
On Tuesday, A Wasu spokesperson said the company has yet to receive any notice from authorities. It said it will comply.
iQiyi said it will talk to set-top box providers to make sure their video content meet the new requirement.
IT law expert Zhao Zhanling said inappropriate content is not the main reason for the move.
Rather, the government could not put up with the fact that most of these TV box makers and content providers have bypassed SARFT regulations, Zhao said.
SARFT allows household televisions to be connected to the internet but only through licensed platforms.
In fact, with the rapid growth in online services, internet video sites have gone out of control. Nowadays, people can surf freely on the internet through television. All they need is a TV set-top box.
Internet experts say the ban will not affect the TV set-top box business but streaming sites may sustain collateral damage.
In April, China began a campaign to clean up the internet, resulting in popular American TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife and NCIS being removed from video streaming sites.
The government said the programs breached Chinese copyright regulations or contained controversial sexual or political content.
– Contact the writer at [email protected]