Beijing steps up control of online influencers as culture ministry cracks down on talent agencies
- The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is seeking to expand its oversight of multichannel networks, which help turn people into online influencers
- With the draft regulation, the ministry has become one of several government agencies vying to control its own slice of the growing internet economy
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a policy document on Monday pledging to “strengthen the regulation of the source of online performance content” and “encourage the industry to develop in a healthy and orderly way”. The draft regulation, which has been made public to solicit feedback, is expected to take effect on January 1, 2022.
“Online performance agencies, which act as a bridge between the producers of live-streaming content and the distribution channel, have a great impact on content and have yet to be regulated,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry is just one of several Chinese government agencies that have recently sought to have a say in how to regulate the country’s booming internet industries, as entertainment activities increasingly move online.
According to the draft regulation, online performance agencies, also known as multichannel networks (MCNs), need to collaborate with the culture and tourism department for supervision and provide records of agent activities. The regulation specifies that agencies are not allowed to buy digital gifts for the people they represent while they are live-streaming with the purpose of inducing viewers to buy more gifts, boosting a host’s income and therefore the agency’s cut.
The rules also ban agencies from providing online performance services to people under 16 years old. For people between the ages of 16 and 18, an agency must verify the person’s identity and obtain written approval from a guardian.
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The regulation makes live-streaming platforms responsible for monitoring the qualifications of vendors and the quality of the products they sell, protecting consumer rights and intellectual property rights, and providing data and information to authorities upon request, according to the document.