Thursday, March 06, 2008

SARFT wants Tudou to cease operation - blogger

Isaac Mao, Shanghai-based VC and blogger, reports at Twitter that SARFT wants Tudou.com to cease its operation. Tudou.com is the world's largest video hosting firm, claiming three times the traffic volume of number two, YouTube. The State Administration of Radio, Film and TV, is China's censor for the audio-visual media.
Earlier Pacific Epoch reported that China's central TV station canceled a partnership with Tudou, calling it "unhealthy".
Last year SARFT caused some consternation by ordering that all of the hundreds of Chinese video hosts would have to be state-owned, like all of the existing traditional media. The cold seemed out of the air as SARFT decided to grandfather the existing operations. Now, the pendule seems to move - against all expectations - against the biggest player in the industry.
One of the sticks of hit Tudou, says other reports, was the availability of porn. Managers of Tudou have always claimed that strict checks would prevent them from getting into trouble with the authorities, but as the volume increases, checking content is more difficult.

Isaac Mao is also a speaker at Chinabiz Speakers.

Update I: Danwei comes up with more details, although that does not mean we have now a better clue of what is going on:
The accusations of pornographic content are absurd: Tudou is one of the least salacious video hosts out there. Lots of the smaller ones seem to be trying to compete by pushing the boundaries of what's permitted, but Tudou and the other big ones don't have the same sexy, sexy movies. Copyright infringement's a different story, but there again, Tudou is no worse than any of the others.
Update II: Another, equally inconclusive update by Kaiser Kuo, with a few more juicy details:
Other industry insiders have intimated to me that Tudou had been somewhat cavalier in pursuing compliance with the new SARFT/MII regulations on Internet audio and video broadcast, but most believed that when the date of implementation, January 31, passed without incident, and when SARFT clarified the regulations in a statement the following week suggesting that non-compliant sites would be given a period to resolve problems and restructure so as to be compliant, and would be permitted to apply for a proper license, most industry insiders believed the worst was probably over. However, in conversations with highly-placed industry insiders earlier this week, this reporter was given strong indications that another shoe was yet to fall. Without mentioning Tudou.com by name, these insiders intiated that a “black list” was making the rounds and some form of punishment would be meted out.
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