SARFT bans tweeting video website applications, manages set-top boxes
China's top media and television watchdog on Wednesday reportedly asked licensed online content providers of Internet TV and set-top boxes to rectify violations, including tweeting video website applications or installing Internet browsers in TVs.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) issued a notice asking the seven State-owned licensed Internet TV content providers in China to stop selling set-top boxes which could install applications through a USB port, according to techweb.com.cn.
Currently, people can watch movies, TV channels, including those unavailable on cable TVs like CNN and BBC, through such applications.
The watchdog has also asked providers to halt video and radio applications or applications which allows mobile phones to be used as TV remote controls.
SARFT could not be reached for comment as of press time.
"These regulations would stop TV viewers who had bought Internet TV sets or set-top boxes from downloading unauthorized applications and watch uncensored content, which could affect the sales of set-top boxes," a source from one manufacturer told the Global Times.
This is not the first time SARFT has regulated Internet TVs.
In 2011, it required providers of Internet TVs and set-top boxes to only offer online content from seven licensed providers, which are mainly State-owned, including China Network Television, BesTV News Media Co and Wasu Media.
After SARFT launched a campaign to enforce regulations on Internet TV sets and set-top boxes in June 2014, major video websites removed their TV applications, including Youku Tudou Inc, a leading video website in China.
SARFT held talks with major online video websites in September 2014, setting a deadline of one month for the websites to remove their TV apps and warned that those which failed to meet the deadline would be stripped of their Internet broadcasting license.
"The recent regulations show that SARFT wants to strengthen management over video websites," Xiang Ligang, a telecom expert and CEO of industry information portal cctime.com, told the Global Times.
"Compared to traditional TV, Internet TV and set-top boxes could provide an abundant source of movies and TV shows and allow people to watch them as they please. But this has created problems," said Xiang. By installing applications of video websites, viewers can watch whatever they want, including uncensored violent or pornographic content, according to Xiang.
"Disputes over copyrights might be another concern. It would be hard to protect those who had bought the copyrights to a movie if people could watch it on other video applications or illegally download it from the Internet," Xiang said.