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Rules Tightened for Foreign Content on China’s Online Video Platforms

Unlicensed foreign films and TV series are to be removed from China’s powerful online video platforms beginning today.

Under new regulations drafted by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), which were announced in September last year and took effect from today on April 1, all films and TV shows must get permits before being screened.

The order means Chinese websites will have to obtain an online audio and visual program distribution license to provide general video streaming services, and then obtain publication licenses for foreign films and TV series on a case-by-case basis, Chinese news agency Xinhua explains.

The regulations bring the online video sector more in line with content regulations in cinemas and on TV. But they pose a significant change in the way that series can be shown.

The regulations appear to require that the entirety of a series, rather than individual episodes, be approved before broadcast. That may mean that day-and-date coordination with U.S. broadcasts is no longer possible.

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