By Evan DeSimone
Even as Chinese streaming video platforms increase their investments in western content, Chinese censorship authorities are once again cracking down on foreign television and film.
The State Administration for Press Publishing Radio Film and Television, a governing body responsible for regulating China’s media industry has handed down stiff new regulations governing the kids of software and streaming apps providers can make available on set-top devices. The new rules, which were issued on Nov. 6, are expected to go into effect this weekend, curtailing a number of downloadable apps that allow viewers to access television from the United States and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The new rules cover 81 specific apps that Chinese consumers had been allowed to download on set-top boxes and connected television devices. Pursuant to the new regulations, these apps were manually deleted from app stores and from individual consumer’s devices over the weekend. Makers of set-top decodres will be required, going forward, to work with licensed software partners approved by SAPPRFT. Currently, all licensed providers are state run companies.
China’s market for foreign content is currently booming among streaming providers. The countries leading online video platforms have been increasingly competitive in vying for content from western movie and television studios. While the Chinese government has tacitly approved the acquisition of streaming rights for the “Star Wars” and “James Bond” franchises and a wide range of other content, censors are still unprepared to allow consumers to have unfettered access to western programming through set-top decoders.