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Unhealthy Online Games Targeted

China is to weed out online games containing pornography, gambling and violence to protect impressionable youngsters.

Authorities have also pledged not to license the broadcasting of any new foreign satellite television channels into the country.

Foreign online games featuring unhealthy content will be blocked, according to regulations recently introduced by six government departments including the Ministry of Culture (MOC) and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

Speaking in Beijing to China Daily yesterday, Tuo Zuhai, an official with the MOC, said three major problems have emerged in online gaming, which has exploded in China in recent years, with an estimated 13.8 million people taking part.

"The games' contents are often related to sex or violence, and more than half of the online games being played in China are foreign ones without authorization from the Chinese Government," Tuo said. "Some games adversely affect youngsters' psychological health."

The problems the games are causing have caught the central government's attention, and, Tuo says, strengthening screening of the games is an important step in tackling the problems.

The recent regulation spells out that only online games with exclusive import authorization from the MOC are allowed to be brought into the country, and game content cannot be revised without authorization.

The regulation also has two other major stipulations: That China will not approve the broadcast of any new overseas satellite TV channels in the country, and that China has no immediate plans to appoint any new institutions to act as import agents for media products such as books and magazines, video and audio products, movies and TV programmes.

The Chinese Government has approved a handful of overseas TV channels, including Bloomberg, Phoenix TV's InfoNews channel, CNN, HBO and BBC World, to broadcast to hotels rated three stars or higher, and in residences and offices used exclusively by foreigners.

Other permitted recipients include educational and science institutions, which require the programming for their work.

The regulation reiterated that any unlicensed broadcasting or reception of overseas channels is prohibited.

The SARFT issued another notice last month, banning any co-operation between local TV and radio stations and foreign companies in the way channels are operated.

According to the SARFT, the Qinghai Satellite TV Station in Northwest China has ceased an operational agreement that began earlier this year with the News Corporation held by media mogul Rupert Murdock.

(China Daily August 4, 2005)

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