State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) has ordered a series of websites, including Sina Weibo, AcFun, and Phoenix, to stop unlicensed online audio-visual programmes that SAPPRFT says undermine social stability. This is another instance of the government’s increasing control over the internet, embodied by the Cybersecurity Law that came into effect this year.

SAPPRFT issued ‘Administrative Provisions on Internet Audio-Visual Programme Service’ in 2008, which order online audio-visual service providers to apply for a licence. Furthermore,

  • the Provisions significantly raised the bar of applying for a licence. Only state-owned or state-controlled media is able to apply, and only 588 licences were issued by the end of 2016
  • Under the Provisions, the only way for private media enterprises to obtain a licence is to acquire companies that already have a licence
  • SAPPRFT defines internet audio-visual programme services to include a wide range of activities, including the production and broadcast of interviews, news, TV shows, and live-streaming