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Chinese gov demands less news in internet channels

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The Chinese regulator has tightened guidelines for video services that get too close to reporting news, resulting in at least one service replacing its news channel with the more-usual internet inanity.

The notice issued by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), explains that that the regulator intends to take a much tougher line with online entities providing news, or rebroadcasting news provided by someone else, reminding them that everyone reporting any news needs a licence of some sort.

The notice, reproduced and translated by Marbridge Daily, reminds organisations actually gathering news that they'll need a "Class A" licence, while those hosting content containing news still need a "Class B".

There is also trial classification, "Class D", for broadcasters who let a little news content slip into their otherwise mundane schedules, but it's not clear who that will apply to.

There's no YouTube in China (it probably hasn't got a licence) but local blog Penn Olson reports that the suspiciously similar Chinese equivalent Tudou has replaced its news channel with "a watered-down variety of amusing video clips".

Like all countries, China is struggling to understand how the internet changes society and the government's role within it, but unlike the governments of most developed countries, the government of China likes to keep absolute control of the news media – and that's becoming increasingly difficult as the internet encourages everyone to share everything.

The tightening of the rules comes a week before the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party, prompting Tudou-competitor YouKu to paint its homepage red in celebration (while maintaining its licensed news section) – just in case there was any doubt about where its loyalties lie. ®

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