China’s top media regulator has reiterated its directive that licenses are required for those who wish to broadcast live over the internet, as authorities clamp down on content disseminated over internet platforms.

Both live broadcasting platforms as well as those who wish to broadcast on such platforms will need a license in order to continue operating, according to an announcement published by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television earlier this month. Platforms that do not have a license will no longer be allowed to use terms such as “TV” in their names.

live broadcast douyu
Live broadcast of game play on Douyu, a popular live streaming website. Photo: Douyu screencap.

The People’s Daily said on Monday that authorities approved 588 licenses as of May 31 and the list includes “mostly news publishing, enterprises and institutions, and large streaming websites.”

A member of the industry told the Chinese newspaper that the effects of the license cannot be ignored, and those who cannot get a license within a short period of time may have to shut down.

According to the China Internet Network Information Center, almost 325 million individuals, or 45.8 per cent of total internet users, used live streaming services between December 2015 and June 2016.

Papi Jiang screenshot
Papi Jiang. Photo: Youtube screenshot via Global Voices.

Chinese netizens have faced increasing controls over what they can see and access on the internet in recent months. In June, popular internet figure Papi Jiang, known for her satirical videos, had some of her videos taken down from video platform Youku.

In May, authorities were mulling over a policy which would allow some state-owned enterprises to buy “special management stakes” in popular video streaming sites. In April, iTunes Movies and iBooks were blocked in China.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.