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A three-minute delay on live streaming has been suggested as part of draft regulations put out by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Photo: Lea Li

China airs tighter content rules to rein in live streaming, rap and comedy shows

  • Public performances – from concerts to immersive theatre – should have on-site censors, according to draft regulations
Phoebe Zhang
China could introduce a three-minute delay on live streaming if draft regulations on public performances are adopted.

The delay is among a range of recommendations released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Thursday for about two weeks of public comment.

In it, the ministry says special attention should be paid to electronic music and rap shows, particularly in terms of audience interaction and content on screens.

It says immersive shows – such as those involving audience participation – should not have any bloody or superstitious content, while talk shows, the traditional Chinese form of comedy called crosstalk and avant-garde plays require censorship and on-site surveillance. Safety management and emergency drills are also stressed.

According to the draft, “there are weak links in content checks, ticket sales and on-site surveillance with China’s public performances and they need to be regulated”.

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No performance should include any content that is against the constitution, laws or regulations. Performances that concern history, ethnicity and religion need to be of “correct guidance and healthy content”.


New forms of public performances, such as internet live streaming, also need to be regulated, according to the draft. It suggested a delay of at least three minutes for live broadcasts in addition to in-house censors for content and online comments.

Footage of problematic live-streamed shows must be retained for at least 60 days for checks.

Many questioned whether the ministry was leaving any room for healthy development of entertainment and culture.

“I’ve seen so many movies withdrawn this year, too many songs taken off the shelf, and a band I liked for six years disappearing from many music apps,” one commenter said on the social media platform Weibo.

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Weibo commentator Qiao Zhifeng wrote: “If something is delayed for three minutes, can that still be considered real live broadcast?”


At the same time, others said there was a need to clamp down on vulgar content.

Last Tuesday, crosstalk performer Zhang Yunlei apologised on Weibo for making fun of three Peking Opera artists in a skit in May, which included a joke that he bathed with one female artist and scrubbed her back.


Videos of the show were circulated online, prompting criticism of the performance from the Peking Opera Association as well as members of the public.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Three-minute delays proposed in shows crackdown