China Bans Foreign Shows on Set-Top Boxes

China’s film and TV regulators have banned plug-in software that has allowed TV viewers to access foreign TV shows through set-top decoders.

The order from the State Administration for Press Publishing Radio Film and Television was made on Nov. 6.

It is understood to cover 81 third party applications that mainland TV viewers can either download on to their boxes, or which can be pre-loaded by manufacturers.

The software allows viewers to access foreign channels and, so, to bypass mainland Chinese censorship.

Decoder manufacturers must delete the offending plug-ins from their operating systems and work with a licensed partner company if they are to display content. Seven state-owned enterprises have such licenses.

The deletions appeared to take effect this weekend with a large number of viewers no longer able to access U.S. and Hong Kong shows and instead hitting a blue screen with a message saying that operating systems were being upgraded.

The SAPPRFT is now understood to be upgrading its own TVOS1.0 operating system to host third party apps.

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