China issues Web video licenses

Top sites left off list of 247 companies

HONG KONG -- China's media regulators have licensed 247 companies to share video online but left the country's most popular video Web sites off the new list.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television late Wednesday issued a list of companies granted an "Online Audio-Visual Broadcasting License" in keeping with December 2007 rules established with the Ministry of Information Industry.

This year, the number of Internet users in China surpassed those in the U.S. for the first time, hitting 233 million by the end of March. However, in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in August, China has moved to tighten control the variety of views and information the Web brings.

The new licenses were granted to state-owned broadcasters China Central Television, the Xinhua News Agency, the China Daily newspaper and China National Radio. Nasdaq-listed Internet portal Sohu.com, also obtained a license.

Noticeably absent from the list were China's top online video sharing sites, including 56.com, Tudou.com and Youku.com -- all of which have been allowed to continue to operate during their license application process.

Tudou.com, claims more than 100 million daily video views and 65 million unique visitors per month, according to vp business development Dan Brody.

Brody and Youku founder and CEO Victor Koo told The Hollywood Reporter that their companies are working closely with the government and are hopeful that their sites will be licensed soon.

"As with the Internet Communication Provider license back in 2000, the lists came out in different lots," Koo said. "It's only a matter of time that we receive the license."

Brody said that licenses are issued to smaller video sharing sites first.

"Since Tudou.com is one of the biggest companies in the field in China, we are subject to a more lengthy review process," he said.
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