Wed, Apr 04, 2018 - Page 5 News List

China cracks down on Web spoofs

AFP, BEIJING

The Chinese Ministry of Culture has slapped fines on Web sites that posted parodies of “communist classics and heroes,” as the authorities further restrict what people can say — or even laugh at — online.

Major video sites iQiyi and Sina were handed undisclosed fines for “distorting or mocking” classic works, the ministry said, less than two weeks after new rules were issued to ban online spoofs.

The ministry did not describe the offending videos, but another company in Sichuan Province, Sichuan Shengshi Tianfu Media, was given “the highest fine according to the law” for creating a popular parody of a revolutionary ballad, the ministry said on Monday.

Yellow River Cantata, a patriotic song written in 1939 encouraging young people to fight during the Second Sino-Japanese War, has inspired several humorous remakes that have chafed the authorities.

One viral video this year featured employees from the Sichuan company in panda hats, lamenting delays in receiving year-end bonuses.

China has one of the world’s most restrictive Internets, with a “Great Firewall” that blocks foreign social media Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and censors politically sensitive content.

Despite the censorship, the Internet is wildly popular in China, with people turning to video parodies to mock state media or highlight pressing social issues, but China’s media regulator — the Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television — issued a directive on March 22 banning Web sites from “editing, dubbing or adding subtitles to classic works, radio and television programs, or original online audio-visual programs.”

Nearly 12,000 officers have been deployed to monitor online content, the ministry said.

Censors have investigated more than 7,800 entities and found more than 230 violations, it said.

Authorities are also targeting online game developers who promote gambling or use pornographic content.

The new rule was announced just over a week after a TV reporter’s theatrical eye roll during a Beijing news conference on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress took social media by storm.

The video triggered a series of satirical performances, some mocking the scripted nature of the rubber-stamp parliament, before censors intervened.

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