The Beijing Cyberspace Administration has shut down several news columns and channels in China for producing original news stories, reported the Beijing News.

Sina has shut down a column called Geek News and is taking down forbidden content from its live channel Sina Live. iFeng’s column called “Serious News” has been closed. Sohu has shut down three news columns, and NetEase closed two.

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Google cache of Sohu’s Newsmaker column. Photo: Screenshot.

The programmes on the commercial news portals are in violation of Article 16 of the Provisions for the Administration of Internet News Information Services, said a spokesperson from the cyberspace regulator. All platforms such as websites, mobile apps, and WeChat accounts for these programs will be shut down. The news portals were ordered to revise their sites within a deadline set by the administration and given warnings and fines.

The columns and channels published large amounts of original news content, and severely violated regulations, creating an “extremely bad influence,” said the spokesperson.

An official said they violated regulations which “stipulate that re-posting or releasing news articles on social and political issues can only be done if they come from news agencies run by the central, provincial or municipal governments and should also note the sources,” reported The Global Times.

The Provisions on the Administration of Internet News Information Services issued in 2005 state that internet news providers may not post news information they have gathered and edited themselves.

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A 404 notice for Sina’s Geek News column. Photo: Screenshot.

Recent revisions expanded the rules to include new media, stating that apps, forums, blogs, microblogs, instant messaging tools, search engines and all other news or social mobilisation apps must obtain an Internet News Information Service License before being able to edit, publish and distribute news.

China’s Cyberspace Administration issued press cards to online media for the first time in November, reported the Global Times. They were issued to 594 reporters from 14 “major central news portals” including the People’s Daily and the Xinhua News Agency, but not to employees at commercial news portals such as Sina and Sohu.

At the beginning of July, the Cyberspace Administration banned sites from publishing reports based on “unverified” content from social media and punished portals run by Sina, iFeng, Caijing, Tencent and NetEase for publishing false reports.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.