New rounds of youth restrictions in China. On Saturday May 7, the National Radio and Television Administration announced several additional measures in the country to limit live streams – live broadcasts on the Internet.
Concretely, once past 10 p.m., it will now be impossible for Chinese people under the age of 16 to access this content: the broadcast will be “extinguished by force” using parental controls, according to a statement from the administration, quoted by Reuters. The latter also encourages content creators to “strengthen the management of appointment times” to enable teenagers “to get enough rest”.
On the streamer side, since June 2021, the law has already prohibited teenagers under the age of 16 from broadcasting live content on the Internet themselves. With these new rules, those aged 16 to 18 will also have to obtain the agreement of a legal guardian to continue their online activities.
Bans on donations for minors
The new restrictions also attack the very economics of livestreams. All minors are now strictly prohibited from carrying out a tip- a donation – to their favorite streamers. Of a free amount, these donations allow spectators to support the creators they appreciate. Typically, they come with a personalized message that can be read live by the creator. In addition to advertising revenue or product placements, they represent a significant inflow of money for streamers. A practice that the Chinese government now considers dangerous and “responsible for serious physical and mental damage”explains the administration in its press release.
Streamers and platforms are ordered to put themselves in order, under penalty of retaliatory measures ranging from the suspension of the donation system to the outright shutdown of the streaming site. The latter will also have to employ people who will deal exclusively with the censorship of inappropriate content aimed at the youngest.
As in many countries, live broadcasts in China have seen growing success since the start of the pandemic. Sometimes the only source of social interaction during confinement (as in Shanghai, which has been put back under cover since the beginning of April), they have become a privileged means of maintaining a semblance of normality. Among them, live sales broadcasts have particularly gained momentum: at the start of the pandemic, more than four million such broadcasts existed.
The e-commerce platforms concerned are, for example, those of Alibaba and Kuaishou Technology. It also affects Chinese versions of apps popular in the West, such as Douyin, the country’s equivalent of TikTok, which last year had more than 550 million users in China. Or DouYu and Huya, equivalents to the Twitch platform.
These drastic measures concerning the use of the Internet are not the only ones taken by the regime lately. In August 2021, the government limited the time allowed for online gambling to three hours per week. The authorities had then argued that a longer practice represented a threat to the sight, physical and mental health as well as the social life of the youngest. “Many parents have told us that video game addiction has seriously affected their children’s ability to learn and study”, they justified then. A month later, the government also restricted the use of Douyin for children under 14 to forty minutes a day, with a ban between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
More recently, according to Reuters, the government launched a massive campaign in April to clean up ” chaos “ represented by the live broadcast and short video market, in order to promote more appropriate content.
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