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China’s top internet regulator lays down the rules on live-streaming programmes

China’s most powerful internet regulator has formally set controls over the country’s thriving online broadcasting sector, requiring people live-streaming news and entertainment content to have a licence, among other rules.

The Cyberspace Administration issued the regulations on Friday, stipulating that those who host live-streaming news platforms as well as organisations managing the broadcasts have to get official permission to operate.

Hosts live-streaming talent shows will also need a licence, according to the regulations.

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All live-streaming hosts will have to register details of their identity cards or business licences.

Live-streaming service providers are required to censor live content before broadcasting it. Platforms carrying out interactive sessions will also have to have censors manage their live comment sections and “bullet screens”, or dan mu in Chinese.

Organisations that live-stream news programmes must have an editor-in-chief in charge, according to the regulations.

A statement from the administration quoted an unnamed official as saying that more than 300 organisations were in the business of live-streaming, mostly reporting on news and entertainment.

Some “tried to catch eyeballs with vulgar content and some engaged in news broadcasting without approval”, the official said.

“The regulations are to strengthen online streaming management and promote the healthy and orderly development of the sector,” the statement said.

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The regulations issued on Friday come months after China’s press and entertainment watchdog, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, ordered live-streaming platforms to apply for a “ network broadcasting licence” to operate.

The Cyberspace Administration is more powerful than the radio and TV watchdog, and its directives carry more weight.

Live-streaming is extremely popular in mainland China, with content running the gamut from sporting events to eccentric personalities hosting their own shows.