June 30, 2017 / 8:53 AM / 2 months ago

'Sing the motherland': China tightens rules for online content

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China laid out rules on Friday for online content from television dramas to cartoons and "micromovies", formalising and tightening the steps censors should take when vetting material under a tough crackdown across media and entertainment.

At least three "auditors" will have to check all movies, dramas, documentaries and animations posted online to ensure they adhere to "core socialist values", the industry body the China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) said.

The rules, which build upon guidelines released in 2012, come as authorities are cracking down on online content such as literature, livestreaming, news and social media - a broad campaign aimed at controlling social discourse online.

Weibo Corp, the operator of China's top microblogging site, said this week it would block unapproved video content and work more closely with state media to promote "mainstream" ideas, following a sharp rebuke from regulators.

Authorities also ordered internet companies this month to close 60 celebrity gossip social media accounts to help "actively propagate core socialist values" and prop up "mainstream public opinion".

Under the new guidance, which comes into immediate effect, censors should check that content adheres to proper Chinese values and strive to tell Chinese stories to help "realise the China dream of a great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation."

Content should "sing the motherland, eulogize heroes, celebrate our times in song, and lead the people to hold the correct historical, ethnic, national and cultural view".

Programmes that undermined a respectful national image, ridiculed leaders, promoted negative or decadent views of life and showed the "dark side" of society would be edited, or in severe cases stopped.

President Xi Jinping has overseen measures to clamp down on independent online media, while reasserting the ruling Communist Party's role in limiting and guiding online discussion.

The Cyberspace Administration of China in May released regulations for online news portals and network providers, which extended restrictions on content and required all services to be managed by party-sanctioned editorial staff.

The new rules also laid out a range of issues that did not meet with approval, including violence, drug addiction, extramarital affairs and religious cults.

Also on the list was homosexuality, underlining the conservative official view on same-sex relations.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan and SHANGHAI newsroom; Editing by Robert Birsel

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