Weibo and Other Sites Told to Stop Streaming

Posted June 24, 2017

In this April 27, 2017 photo, staff members wait for visitors at a booth for Chinese microblogging website Sina Weibo at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing.

A statement published on the website of China's TV and film watchdog said that some websites, including Sina Weibo, AcFun, ifeng.com, did not obtain the administration's license on audio-visual services, and ran content about politics and public affairs against government rules, as well as other content providing negative commentary.

China's Internet shares tumbled after news of the clampdown with Weibo Corp's down 9 percent, while SINA Corp, which has a stake in Weibo, fell 6 percent. Internet companies are required to enforce censorship by removing postings about politically sensitive topics.

Three popular Chinese internet services have been ordered to stop streaming video after censors complained it contained improper comments about sensitive issues. In a statement posted to its verified Weibo account, video service AcFun also acknowledged the order and said it will work to adjust its services and strengthen oversight of its programming.

Rules, which on June 1 took effect, ban foreign or private companies from disseminating news directly or investing in services that provide online news. The technology ministry said it forbids use of virtual private networks and leased lines to circumvent government filters and access banned websites overseas. The company plans to fully cooperate with the relevant authorities.

The main business for Sina Weibo is a microblog similar to Twitter in the U.S. It is one of the most popular social media services in the world, with more than 313 million monthly users as of last December.

Weibo Corp.'s stock market value surged past that of Twitter early this year.

Chines media regulator the SAPPRFT said that the three groups did not have licences to stream audio and video content.