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SAPPRFT further limits use of social media

A new Notification from the China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) further limits the use of social media to spread audio and visual materials. The full text of the document is not available yet, making it difficult to understand the full scope of the restrictions; but an official press release indicates some of the “principle content”, paraphrased below.

While the last several years in China have emphasized having a legal basis for government actions, it is not at all uncommon for the full text of new legal authority to be released long after the press announces its ‘release’, or to never be made public at all.

The Notice is said to:

  1. Require a special permit and other credentials for transmission of audio-visual materials on weibo and public Weixin (WeChat) accounts and other social media. The permits are abbreviated as AVSP [Audio Visual Services Permits?] and will specify a specific scope of permissible operations for the transmissions. Where individuals or organizations offer programming without permits, the internet platform takes responsibility for content review, management, and restricting ineligible users;  and the platform’s own permits  are to limit the scope of all material available. 
  1. Require that movies or television programs spread on social media  have a “Public Film Screening Permit” or “Television Show Distribution Permit”.
  1. Clarify that AV materials spread on social media must comply with regular internet programming regulations. This includes web shows, web movies, news programs, documentaries, special features, and variety shows that are transmitted through social media.

Current events news programming produced and uploaded by the public must not be transmitted at all. This final provision echoes article 22 in proposed revisions to general internet content regulation, released in June 2015 for solicitation of public comments.  It is not immediately clear whether some version of those revisions was ultimately adopted.

It is said that State broadcast authorities under SAPPRFT are also called upon to strengthen enforcement



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Jeremy Daum is a Senior Fellow of the Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center, based in Beijing, with over a decade of experience working in China on collaborative legal reform projects. His principal research focus is criminal procedure law, with a particular emphasis on protections of vulnerable populations such as juveniles and the mentally ill in the criminal justice system, and is also an authority on China’s ‘Social Credit System’. Jeremy has spoken about these issues at universities throughout China and in the U.S.; and has co-authored a book on U.S. Capital Punishment Jurisprudence for Chinese readers. He is also the founder and contributing editor of the collaborative translation and commentary site, dedicated to improving mutual understanding between legal professionals in China and abroad.
He translates, writes, edits, does web-design, graphic design, billing, tech support, and social media outreach for China Law Translate.


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  2. […] China Law Translate has posted the official press release from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) announcing the new regulations, which further explain what content will be restricted. According to their translation, the notice will: […]

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