BEIJING: Chinese authorities have tightened their grip on the country's media by restricting the sources of videos its citizens are allowed to view via the internet.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and the Ministry of Information have declared that from the end of January video websites - and those that allow users to upload video - must obtain government permits. Only state-owned or controlled enterprises will be granted permission.
The new regulations, claim the authorities, are intended to stop video broadcasts that involve national secrets, hurt the reputation of China, disrupt social stability or promote pornography.
If videos breach these rules they will have to be deleted, while providers are compelled to report questionable content to the government.
The new restrictions, posted on the government-run Chinafilm.com website, state: "Those who provide internet video services should insist on serving the people, serve socialism . . . and abide by the moral code of socialism."
The are more than a hundred Chinese online video-sharing sites. The leading ones, which include Youku and Tudou, are privately held, receive millions of visitors each month, and have attracted considerable private equity finance.
Investors are drawn by the potentially rich online advertising pickings.
Also popular are foreign-owned websites such as Google's YouTube, which responded to the latest crackdown: "China's new regulations for online video could be a cause for concern.
"We believe that the Chinese government fully recognizes the enormous value of online video and will not enforce the regulations in a way that could deprive the Chinese people of its benefits."
But China's citizens have been cautious in their consumption and contributed only some 36% to GDP in the first three quarters of the year, a record low compared with around 60% in the period 1978-2002 and 50% in 2006.
Spending has been retarded by soaring housing costs. Home prices in seventy major Chinese cities jumped 7.3% year-on-year in the period between January and November, while in the latter month the figure rose 10.5% over the same month in 2006.
Data sourced from International Herald Tribune, People