The Chinese authorities continue their crackdown on the country’s internet services to maintain a stringent control on the content being consumed by the populace. But, the latest blow from regulators comes in the form of a ban on every video and audio streaming service running on three major internet platforms — Sina Weibo, iFeng, and ACFUN.
Coming out of the blue, this is a surprising development for three of the most popular content consumption platforms in China. The Twitter-esque micro-blogging platform Sina Weibo, widely popular news portal iFeng, and video streaming platform ACFUN have received instructions to halt video and audio streaming services. It already doesn’t allow international services to operate in China.
This streaming ban has been slapped on the three websites because the regulators allege them of carrying politics-related content, which breaks the state rules. The country’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) has further stated that all three sites also lack the license to stream content in China. It even alleges of hosting social commentary that incites negative opinions among the masses.
Here’s what the official statement released by Chinese regulators states (via Google Translate):
“Weibo”, “ACFUN”, “Phoenix” and other sites who carry out audio-visual program services, in this case, do not have the “dissemination of audio-visual programs information network license.”
A lot of players do not meet the current events set by the state and audiovisual programs and promote negative remarks social commentary program. This [ban] will provide a clean and clear Internet space for the wide number of online users.
While we all know China has been extremely stringent about usage of web platforms in the country, keeping a close check on what the masses are propagating over social media. But, banning content on the services operating within the regulations of China now are also being shut out from being accessed by the public. This is a major blow for content platforms in the country, who would’ve moved into top gear to protect their services.
This decision has had the most severe effect on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter clone, which also recently crossed Twitter in the total number of monthy active users. According to Financial Times, the platform recently also invested in a video streaming site to live stream advertisements on the platform — adding up to another revenue source, which has now been put down by the regulators.
Further, it has caused the company’s market capitalization to drop by more than $1 billion on the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s share is currently trading around the $73 mark, 6 percent down from the previous day’s closing price. While the said change is huge, Weibo maintains a massive $16 billion market cap, which is still more than Twitter’s $11 billion.
There is currently no information on whether Chinese regulators are planning to revert their decision, meaning if the decision is temporary or permanent. The users now have to apply for a license to re-gain access to both audio and video streaming services.