China's online media purification drive is changing millenials' lifestyle

Updated 2017-07-21 11:13:57 Global Times

Without U.S. TV series or Japanese anime, young people are forced into the real world

○ In the past few weeks, a series of new restrictions on online media has been released. A few video streaming sites had their content removed and shows and forums are being closely monitored to purify the online environment

○ There have been both positive and negative reactions to the restrictions. Meanwhile, some alterations are emerging to fill the void, such as new shows from the State-run media and companies

Last week, Chinese netizens found that virtually all of the movies they saved on video-hosting site bilibili.com had vanished. Photos shared widely on social media showed that TV series and movies across all categories had either gone missing or had been replaced with gray squares.

Bilibili, a hugely popular site with Chinese millennials, was originally a place to watch Japanese anime and other such niche shows, but gradually it became home to all kinds of shows, movies and a community of pop culture enthusiasts. In recent years, official organs such as the Communist Youth League of China and China Central Television (CCTV) even started posting videos on the website in order to attract the younger generation and increase their influence.

Bilibili explained last week on Sina Weibo that to ensure that their content of the website is all in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations, they will review all the videos uploaded by users. During the review, some videos will be inaccessible and after that, unlicensed videos will be removed and the approved ones will be uploaded again, said Bilibili.

A statement posted on the website of China's TV and film watchdog in June said that some websites had not obtained a license from the administration for audio-visual services, and published content about politics and public affairs against government rules, as well as other "negative" content.

In the past few weeks, similar restrictions have been unveiled across a few cultural and entertainment fields in China, arousing controversy and discussion.

Facing restrictions

Bilibili isn't the only video site which has seen its content restricted. Another video sharing site, AcFun, has faced similar restrictions and had all its videos removed. A recent news piece said Weibo also had to remove many overseas videos and accounts.

Last week, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) held an organization management conference in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan Province, discussing new strategies for ensuring a "good environment and order" for communications, according to thepaper.cn.

During the meeting, deputy bureau head Tian Jin said that all production organizations should be responsible for their creations and should seriously think about the social effect of their works, opposing the production and spread of "cultural smog, cultural gutter oil and cultural melamine."

The signs this was coming have been evident for several weeks. But when the first government actions in the Internet entertainment sphere kicked off a few weeks ago, few people expected a whole-scale removal of shows and tranche of new regulations were on their way.

The first signs came when a regulation was announced in June, saying there needs to be "appropriate attention" paid to the celebrity gossip and entertainment business, which was quickly followed by the deletion of more than 20 Weibo and WeChat public accounts.

Among them were two influential accounts, Yansubagua, which put a feminist spin on celebrity news, and Dushedianying, which made comments on current films and often criticized China's film industry as well as media regulations.

On June 22, SAPPRFT released a regulation asking platforms such as Weibo, AcFun and ifeng.com to stop hosting audio-visual programs, as they have not obtained a license. Some talk shows, including the famous Behind the headlines With Wentao, were taken off the digital airwaves.

Gradually, the campaign expanded into more and more areas. On July 1, two regulations were released introducing an evaluation system for online literature websites that demands fictional works "reflect core socialist values and abide by moral norms," and bans any online video that it deems "vulgar," including those which depict homosexuality, extramarital affairs or scenes of obvious "seductive behaviors."

As a result, some literature websites have introduced a mechanism for users to report inappropriate stories to administrators, in return for virtual coins they can use to buy content.

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