China fines Sina over 'indecent' content

May 3, 2014
China plans to restrict Internet giant Sina's right to publish after finding pornographic content on the portal, a report said Friday, in Beijing's latest move to tighten control of the web

Chinese authorities have slapped Internet giant Sina Corp. with a fine of more than $815,000 over "unhealthy and indecent content", the company announced.

The "administrative fine" of 5.1 million yuan ($815,038) was imposed by the Beijing Municipal Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement Unit, Sina said in a release Friday.

Sina also said that the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television had notified it that the company's "Internet Publication License and License for Online Transmission of Audio-Visual Programs would be revoked due to certain unhealthy and indecent content from third-parties or by users" on its online reading channel and website.

Sina added that it "intends to fully cooperate with the relevant government authorities".

Sina is the parent company of Weibo, one of China's most popular microblogging services, which was listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange last month.

News of the punishment comes after the government said last month it planned to restrict Sina's right to publish after finding on the portal.

Sina published 24 "pornographic and obscene" e-books, videos and audio programmes, the government said.

Authorities had said they planned to revoke two of Sina's licences that would effectively bar it from publishing online books, video and audio content and would charge it a "hefty" fine.

Sina had issued an apology on its website, saying it was lax in controlling and monitoring some content.

"We regret and are deeply ashamed of that," it said.

The announced last month a nationwide anti-pornography campaign aimed at "cleaning up the Internet" that would run from April to November, according to state media reports.

China has repeatedly vowed to clamp down on online that it calls "harmful" to minors.

But critics say such efforts have been used to muzzle politically sensitive discussion on the Internet, whose fast-growing user base in China has reached 618 million.

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