China halts IPTV operator over license

China’s broadcast authority has shut down the IPTV operations of a provincial telecommunications firm, the latest move by the government to keep the country’s rapidly expanding media sector in check.

Earlier this month, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television ordered Guangxi Telecom to close its Internet protocol television services, saying the southern provincial subsidiary of China Telecom lacked a broadcast license, The Hollywood Reporter says.

SARFT also told Shanghai Television and its parent the Shanghai Media Group to stop providing IPTV programs to the service Guangxi Telecom launched in early February.

According to local media, the service drew thousands of subscribers in just a few weeks and rapidly expanded to 14 cities within China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the area just west of China’s richest and most media-liberal province, Guangdong.

“Any unlicensed operations by telecom carriers in the IPTV sector will be deemed illegal and thus be halted or punished,” SARFT reiterated in a public notice dated Feb. 12. that surfaced in local media reports this week.

The timetable for the integration of the different parts of China’s media sector is unclear and analysts say a turf battle over who gets to issue what licenses controlling content on the Internet could continue for some time to come.

At least four licenses are required to launch an IPTV service in China, but they’re conferred by three different ministry-level organizations within the central government.

The MIIT issues licenses for IPTV operation, Internet content providers, and mobile value-added service providers. SARFT issues licenses for transmission of video and TV programs via the Internet and the Ministry of Culture issues the license for Internet culture businesses.

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