China eases rules on online video services

China eased new internet controls that limited video-sharing to state companies, saying that private companies already operating in the fast-growing industry are allowed to continue, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said any new competitors must comply with the rules, which took effect last Thursday, according to the government.

The rules, announced abruptly in December, appeared to be aimed at extending China's pervasive web censorship ahead of the Beijing Olympics and prevent unflattering videos from popping up, the report said.

But industry analysts said regulators would be reluctant to enforce them strictly and possibly damage a promising industry.

'Companies that began operation legally before the regulation was issued and have not violated laws or regulations can be licensed and continue operating,' said a statement issued by the two agencies that imposed the rules, the Ministry of Information Industry and the State Administration of Radio Film and Television.

Video-sharing services that were launched after the rules were issued 'must comply,' the statement said.

The report further said China's video-sharing sites are all privately owned, and the rules could have forced some out of business. Industry analysts had expected companies to try to comply by forming partnerships with state-owned broadcasters or newspapers. No such deals have been announced.