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Beijing's continuing efforts to control the Internet

14 April, 2008
By Allison Orr

The State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT) has conducted an investigation of Chinese online audio-visual service providers, looking at content from December 20 to February 20, and found many companies streaming video content without licences and hosting illegal content.

In China, the authorities require a provider of streaming content to obtain a licence and to avoid airing clips that might inspire fear, contain pornography, or endanger national security.  This can be difficult on sites that include user-generated content.  According to Chinaview, the authorities have recently imposed penalties on 62 websites for not having state permissions or broadcasting illegal content.

While some references to the recent violence in Tibet have appeared on China Central Television and the state-run Xinhua News Agency, discussions about unrest in Tibet on Internet forums have been removed by Internet companies within minutes of being posted.  In order to maintain licences, Internet companies employ teams of employees to filter for banned content.

In the meantime, China's top Internet portal, Sina.com, is spending millions of dollars on infrastructure and online video content for the upcoming Olympic Games.  The company is expecting 10 to 20 million people to watch the games via online video streaming, and they are upgrading their capacity to cope with the demand.

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