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China: SARFT and MII regulations on online video

Updated on September 14, 2011
Sarf Headquarter Buiding
Sarf Headquarter Buiding
Keep your mouth shut: suffer from China's Censorship
Keep your mouth shut: suffer from China's Censorship

China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and Ministry of Information Industry (MII) have co-published the new Regulations for Online Audio and Video Services, which will take effect from January 31, 2008. The regulations cover the production, editing, and aggregation of audio and video content and provision to the public through both Internet and mobile networks.

All online audio and video service providers will be required to apply for an "Online Audio-Visual Broadcasting License", key qualifications for which include: being majority state-owned and possessing a comprehensive program censoring system, legal program resources, legal funding sources, and "standardized technology".

Marbridge Consulting has published an in-depth translation of this announcement.

But according Digitalwatch, the requirement that online audio and video service providers be majority state-owned isn't as onerous as it sounds. The work-around that's allowed all of these venture-backed Chinese Internet companies to operate since the late 90s, whereby the offshore Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) forms a contractual relationship with or takes a minority stake in the mainland-based ICP license-holding company. will probably still satisfy regulators.


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