China clamps down on live-streaming services

The Chinese government has cracked down on three of the country’s top live-streaming services over their apparent broadcast of unsuitable political content.

Weibo, the Nasdaq-listed microblogging site, disclosed that it had received a notice from The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (‘SAPPRFT’) asking it to cease all live-stream broadcasts.

“The SAPPRFT had recently requested the local competent authorities to take measures to suspend several companies’ video and audio services due to their lacking of an internet audio/video program transmission license and posting of certain commentary programs with content in violation of government regulations on their sites, and Weibo is named as one of these companies,” Weibo wrote in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal reported that similar notices were issued to Phoenix New Media — the company behind — and video site AcFun.

It some ways it was inevitable. First came the investors with money, then we saw incredible revenue growth as the medium took off — now the government arrives with regulations for some of the edgier content out there.

News of this week’s clampdown comes after regulators forced WeChat and Weibo to close down celebrity gossip outlets using the services to disseminate news. China’s strict new cybersecurity laws went into effect on June 1. Although the exact details of how they will impact businesses is unclear right, containing online media seems to be one of the major focuses.

This is the second controversy that Weibo has dealt with this past month. Overseas-based users of the Chinese service found themselves unable to publish videos or photos during the weekend of the 28th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Weibo blamed the situation on a systems upgrade, but the timing of the restriction made it seem like a method to prevent content that would be deemed unsuitable by authorities. The Chinese government has never acknowledged nor commented upon the events that took place in Tiananmen on June 4, 1989 — which resulted in upwards of 300 deaths as troops forcibly suppressed student-led protests.