By Kenneth Tan and David Feng
Not good news: Tudou may be in for a squashing by the Chinese mainland authorities, specifically, the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television. A Sohu IT report claims that the presence of porn — a big no-no on the Chinese Internet — was all that it took for the potato (which is the Chinese translation of “tudou”) to be squashed.
The squashing is long-term and has no set limit, which means that the “forever” limit could mean a permanent downing. Any chances of Tudou surfacing back to life would only be possible once the “yellow” (ie pornographic) content vanished. The shutdown is even scarier in China; the site would be taken offline — for real. No amount of circumventing the Wall would bring Tudou back to the masses.
Tudou’s partnership with CCTV came to an end after the Shanghai branch of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television received a command to squash Tudou from the national admin. In the circular, Tudou was found to host porn, and that the new Internet AV bills (which took effect in late January 2008) had no effect to squash porn on Tudou.
Interestingly enough, Tudou is still accessible, and no note of the shutdown can be seen. Also of note: Not mentioned anywhere in the Sohu IT report is the name Hu Ziwei, who to those who didn’t blink in late 2007 or early 2008, could ring a bell…
Kaiser Kuo of the Ogilvy China Digital Watch says that a shutdown order has been confirmed by an unnamed SARFT source, but what hasn’t been confirmed is that the “shutdown is to take place immediately without giving Tudou a chance to rectify the situation”. He also adds:
Other industry insiders have intimated to me that Tudou had been somewhat cavalier in pursuing compliance with the new SARFT/MII regulations on Internet audio and video broadcast, but most believed that when the date of implementation, January 31, passed without incident, and when SARFT clarified the regulations in a statement the following week suggesting that non-compliant sites would be given a period to resolve problems and restructure so as to be compliant, and would be permitted to apply for a proper license, most industry insiders believed the worst was probably over. However, in conversations with highly-placed industry insiders earlier this week, this reporter was given strong indications that another shoe was yet to fall. Without mentioning Tudou.com by name, these insiders intiated that a “black list” was making the rounds and some form of punishment would be meted out.
Jeremy Goldkorn of Danwei doubts the whole thing will amount to much:
Your correspondent is inclined to think this is just a shake down for penalty fees, and a shot across the bows of all the video sites to warn them that big brother SARFT is watching.
The accusations of pornographic content are absurd: Tudou is one of the least salacious video hosts out there. Lots of the smaller ones seem to be trying to compete by pushing the boundaries of what’s permitted, but Tudou and the other big ones don’t have the same sexy, sexy movies. Copyright infringement’s a different story, but there again, Tudou is no worse than any of the others.
When we contacted Tudou for a comment, we were told that their PR guys would get back to us in the morning, but unfortunately a day has gone by with no news from them (well, we tried). When they do get back to us, we will give you an update here, so watch this space.
Meanwhile, another source within Tudou said this to us:
I do not want to react to plain rumors.
A look at the blog of Marc van der Chijs, one of the founders of Tudou, also showed zero mention of the incident. His latest post is one of his residential complex taking the relatively drastic measure of installing CCTV cameras to see who in the neighbourhood is littering from their balcony so they can publicly shame them. Another recent post is his declaration of love for Twitter. We wonder if he saw what Shanghai-based venture capitalist Isaac Mao twittered?
Previously on Shanghaiist
Tudou now bigger than Youtube?