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China Tightens Regulations on Online Films

Microfilm director Wei Jiangang

Microfilm director Wei Jiangang

Chinese authorities tightened their grip on the country’s nascent Internet video space this week, announcing new regulations that require producers of so-called digital “microfilms” to submit their real names when uploading content to local Internet video sites.

The government has been struggling to get a handle on as the burgeoning but difficult to regulate new media category of microfilms and web series, which are often quickly produced and consumed via smart phones. This week’s announcement follows a guideline issued by the SGAPPRFT in 2012 requiring Internet video providers to take responsibility for editing all microfilms before posting them. While most microfilms are meant to be consumed as light entertainment, some have touched upon politically sensitive issues and risqué topics. This week’s move further serves the government’s interest of controlling the online conversation in China.

Wei Jiangang, who makes microfilms with homosexual themes, said the industry depicts a multitude of topics and the government considers some — such as sex and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender themes — “very sensitive.”

“The only purpose of such a policy I think is to affect the creativity of microfilm-making, and bring it into the regular censorship system so as to carry out ideological control of this gray area of online video,” Wei said. “In cyberspace, there are loads of various opinions and voices, so the government surely doesn’t want the online video market to escape censorship.”


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