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China Gives Streaming TV the Red Carpet Censorship Treatment

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, March 20 2014

Is House of Cards' reign coming to an end in China?

China keeps foreign media in the country on a tight, short leash, capping the number of foreign films at 34 a year. They also have an ever-expanding system of censoring the web known as the Great Firewall. So it surprised many when it turned out that House of Cards is wildly popular in China, and that it had “survived” the country's notorious censors. Well, that time might be coming to an end. The state media watchdog will now be following the “censor first, broadcast later” policy for streaming content that feature films have endured for decades.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, China's State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) released a statement saying that online companies will now have to have content vetted by government-approved censors before releasing online.

Until now, online companies like Sohu, Youku Tudou and Baidu have been relying on in-house censors.

This development follows the announcement that SAPPRFT will now “outsource” their censorship of domestic films to provincial offices.

Before the clampdown on streaming was announced, director and film professor Xie Fei complained on Sina Weibo that the authorities “censor many local films that will never make it to screens to be seen by audiences” while “turning a blind eye to the absence of ratings on foreign films posted online as well as the messy situation of intellectual rights protection online.”

Chinese actor and producer Guoli Zhang also complained about the now former double standard: “I myself am watching House of Cards and Homeland. . .Even if we could make a show as interesting as those, is there even a slight chance that we could get around the censorship?”

Living in a more "fair" but also more censored world was probably not the outcome Zhang and Fei wanted.

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