China Unveils Tough Controls on Foreign Media Activities

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China is dramatically increasing its restrictions on foreign media operations in the country. Foreign-owned media or joint ventures in China will not be able to publish online without prior approval.

The ban, which takes effect as of March 10, covers text content, video, maps, games, digital books, art and literature.

Notification of the new restrictions was jointly issued by the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

One of the new regulations also requires media companies to keep their servers and data storage.

The new regulations appear to be a greater tightening of restrictions that further extends state control over the Internet. China already has considerable restrictions on conventional media, and most foreign TV channels cannot operate widely in the country.

The country also operates a massive and proactive Web censorship system, commonly nicknamed the “Great Firewall of China,” which monitors social media, filters out certain websites, and is able to target individual Web pages.

Additionally, some of the largest foreign Internet companies are effectively banned from operating directly in China. They include Google (and its Gmail and YouTube products), Facebook and Twitter.

The 40 points of the new regulations appear to allow foreign content to be published by Chinese media or by approved foreign companies, but only after lengthy approvals periods that would rule out news activities.

As is typical of much Chinese regulation, the new rules appear to be simultaneously wide-reaching and vaguely drawn. That creates a large gray area of what may or may not be allowed and encourages media to err on the side of caution.

Chinese-owned media have also been told to increase their internal censorship.

The restrictions appear designed to give the authorities greater ability to keep out any material that is critical of China or presents points of view that are different from the approved political line. That spans news reporting and political commentary, but also includes social media and readers comments. It may also include the content of scientific journals.

It has also emerged that CCTV has dropped its plans to broadcast the upcoming Hong Kong Film Awards in March, because of the inclusion of “10 Years,” an independent film imagining the future of Hong Kong, among the best film nominees.

Freedom of speech and media activities in China have come under increasing control since Xi Jinping became president in 2012. At the World Internet Forum in December, Xi gave an opening speech that made clear China’s belief in a system where sovereign countries are free to control the Internet how they choose within their own borders.

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  1. taz says:

    china is buying the world, soon we will pondering for china approval in our country.

  2. dave says:

    it bothers me that, not hat the people’s republic keeps its own citizens in the dark, but that we allow so much chinese propaganda on out media. CCTV news is available in english on PBS related channels, and there are many vhf channels that cater to chinese in the US.
    until I can watch CBS news when I’m in beijing, there should be no CCTV in the US.
    until I can buy the New York Times in beijing, then people’s daily shouldn’t be available in the US.
    chinese movies should be available – the same number per year as US movies in china.
    chinese businesses should operate in the US, under the rules that apply to in china – 50% US owned.
    chinese immigrants and students should be encouraged – the same number as china accepts, assuming they can find that many americans to exchange.

  3. herrumph says:

    The difference between the West and China is the West is actively trying to change the Chinese government to one that serves Western interests first. Look at the mess in the of Syria. Same thing at work. The Western media lies contrary to the romanticized view that it’s a source of the truth. Remember WMDs in Iraq? If another country was actively trying to undermine the US government using the media, the US would take direct steps against it. I bet Americans would all agree that the civil rights movement was a good thing for the US. Yes but back then the US government labeled it a communist movement to stifle it. You’re no different.

  4. Rex says:

    So if I say something like “screw China” in this article, they probably won’t see it in China, right?

    That’s a shame.

    Screw China.

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