China’s broadcasting regulator will implement strict licensing rules for online shows from Wednesday, deepening efforts by the government to monitor, review and clean up content in the world’s biggest internet market . The National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) will require all online films and shows to obtain a broadcasting licence before these can be made available to the public. It puts this segment of the internet market to the same level as China’s film industry, which is subject to some of the toughest censorship in the world. “The purpose of this rule is to prevent the internet platform from becoming a place where disqualified content can circulate without regulation,” NRTA’s deputy head Li Jingsheng told state television broadcaster China Central Television on Tuesday. “Content creators will feel a stronger social responsibility … [and] sense of mission to promote Chinese culture.” This licensing requirement is expected to add a new layer of uncertainty for all studios and distributors that cater to China’s vast online audience. This latest development reflects Beijing’s intention to tighten its grip on cyberspace, while directing internet companies to root out content that fails to fit the values that the government endorses. Beijing recently rolled out new rules that tightened its grip on online content, as part of efforts to create a “clean and healthy” domestic cyberspace. In March, a new regulation took effect that reins in algorithms used on apps to recommend what consumers would like to read, watch, play and buy online. Since China does not have a ratings system or law governing film accessibility, the power to decide which films or shows can be seen online lies in the hands of the authorities behind the NRTA and other government organisations that oversee this sector. Enforcement of new rules and guidelines, however, are always subject to change in the country. In recent years, Beijing has become less tolerant with online content that it deems harmful and inappropriate. China’s internet watchdog intensifies scrutiny of online content in 2022 During the campaign to “clean up” cyberspace and “develop a positive and healthy internet culture” , Beijing has called for cancelling “sissy idols” who do not meet traditional Chinese standards for masculinity. Online video platform operator iQiyi , for example, had to suspend its lucrative idol talent reality show, without mentioning when it will be resumed. Stringent censorship also applies to imported shows and films. Earlier this year, LGBTQ-related scenes in hit American sitcom Friends were removed by censors on popular streaming video providers like iQiyi, Tencent Video , Youku and Bilibili .