China's Youku branches into online news

Partners with 28 national TV b'casters, including BTV, SMG

BANGKOK -- Youku.com, a leading Chinese video Web site, has gotten into the news business, syndicating video news content from 28 national and provincial television networks on its new Youku News Channel.

In addition to offering online video news to China's 250 million Web surfers via Beijing Television, the Shanghai Media Group, the Nanfang Media Group and the Xinhua News Agency, the Youku News Channel will offer user-generated videos on almost everything making national headlines.

"With a focus on online syndication and interactivity, Youku News Channel will be a bridge connecting the traditional media and Internet users," Youku News Channel chief editor Zhu Xiangyang said in a statement Tuesday.

China's ruling Communist party strictly monitors the news available to its citizens, and Zhu said that Youku's primary goal is "to build a mainstream and socially responsible news platform with timely news video content."

During a rough year in China that saw a devastating snowstorm in March, followed by an even more deadly earthquake in May, Youku found that many Chinese TV networks turned to video uploaded by Youku users.

"Watching news-related videos online has become increasingly mainstream for Internet users in China," Youku founder and CEO Victor Koo said.

In June, SARFT shut down rival Web site 56.com after, rumor has it, the company posted a user-generated video widely thought to be insensitive to the victims of the May 12 Sichuan earthquake. When censors issued a list of approved video sites in July, 56.com was not on it -- but neither were Youku and Tudou.com, another rival.

Since then, Youku's audience has grown as it struck deals with 268 media companies -- including film studios and record labels -- for their video content, all carefully screened by the 90 video reviewers Youku employs.

Launched in December 2006, Youku now claims it delivers more than 160 million video clips a day and that its users spend more than 40 billion minutes on the Web site each month.
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