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China Tightens Controls on Foreign Video Content

The Big Bang TheoryThe Big Bang Theory
A scene from "The Big Bang Theory" on CBS.Photograph by CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

Chinese regulators are tightening licensing rules in a fresh move to exert control over the available online video content in the country, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Currently, Chinese internet companies are allowed to stream only 30 percent of their content from abroad. But companies often use a legal loophole: if they physically import foreign content, they have the right to post it online without contributing toward their quota count.

The new rules, which the Journal reports will be detailed next month, stymies that workaround by limiting media licenses and requiring companies to disclose if they plan to post physically imported content online.

American media, like “The Big Bang Theory” and “House of Cards,” have gained popularity in China over the past few years, with the former, an Emmy-award-winning show about nerdy scientists, being streamed more than 1.3 billion times in the five years ending in 2014. But by the beginning of this year, Chinese regulators began to show qualms about the popularity of foreign shows, banning four of the most popular American TV shows from all streaming sites.