Tighter rules on video streaming
Online apps say all along were strict on registration, analyst sees benefits
The year 2016 — widely regarded as the best to date for the Chinese online video live streaming industry — toward its close also saw the sector’s authorities impose a number of tighter policies on the emerging industry.
On Monday, the Ministry of Culture released new regulations on online performances, under which live streaming platforms will require performers to register with valid identity documents.
The platforms must additionally verify their identification via interviews or recorded video calls. Meanwhile, online games that have not been approved by the ministry will not be allowed to go live on the platforms.
Live streaming application Inke told China Daily that it had all along required performers to register with valid identification documents in advance. Inke has an audit team of 1,200 people — the biggest of its kind in China — to review video content and personal information on a 24/7 basis.
Beijing-based Yixia.com, the provider of the live streaming application Yizhibo, said it also had strict requirements governing performer identification. Yixia has introduced a face recognition function so that it can ensure the validity of the performer’s identification.
Yixia.com said in an email response to China Daily that some platforms used to broadcast vulgar and pornographic content when rules were less strict, which hurt the sector’s reputation and had a potential negative impact for the sustained growth of the industry. It added that the introduction of the new regulations would be good for those platforms giving a top priority to content.
It is the third time in four months that the authorities have introduced stricter policies. In November the Cyberspace Administration — China’s internet oversight and control agency — released new regulations requiring performers to register using real names. Under them platforms which broadcast illegal content were put on a blacklist.
Early in September the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television reiterated that live streaming programs should strictly follow the online program management regulations.
“With the new regulations, the performers who used to make easy money by dancing, telling jokes, or simply eating and sleeping, will find that they are no longer popular,” said Zhang Jiang jian, a Shenzhen-based independent internet industry analyst.
“Audiences are no longer attracted by such content. Performers with no core com- petitiveness will no longer be followed,” he added.
“More importantly, the industry will regain its order.”
He said that a large number of live streaming platforms used to present fake statistics when the industry was expanding rapidly. But with the new regulations, the industry would be more regulated and professional.
“Only platforms which can establish a sustained profit model, or those able to seek another round of financing, or those able to gain support from internet giants, are likely to survive the ever increasing competition,” Zhang added.
According to the Cyberspace Administration, in November there were more than 300 live streaming companies in the mainland. The China Internet Network Information Center reported in June that there were a total of 325 million live streaming users in China, comprising 45.8 percent of the total internet user population.
Statistics provided by the China International Capital Corporation Ltd indicates that the size of the Chinese live streaming market reached 15 billion yuan ($2.17 billion) in 2015.
With the new regulations, the performers who used to make easy money by dancing, telling jokes, or simply eating and sleeping, will find that they are no longer popular.” Zhang Jiangjian, a Shenzhen-based independent internet industry analyst
Fan Feifei and Ouyang Shijia contributed to this story.
Online celebrities, dressed in ancient costume, broadcast online video live streaming during an entertainment event in Wuxi, Jiangsu province.