When the wife of a popular sportscaster grabbed the microphone at a
pre-Olympics reception and blabbed about her husband’s infidelity, the
inevitable happened. An audience member with a cellphone captured the whole embarrassing
episode, including the mortified husband trying to hush his wife and
security guards fluttering about helplessly, and posted footage worthy
of “The Jerry Springer Show” on Tudou.com, a Chinese clone of YouTube.
All sorts of irreverent footage ends up on Tudou and other Chinese
video sites — spoofs of public figures, off-beat animated films,
Taiwanese music videos and real-life street scenes that display the
spontaneity and edge missing from state-run television.
A harsh new law that took effect Friday forbids any content “which
damages China’s unity and sovereignty; harms ethnic solidarity;
promotes superstition; portrays violence, pornography, gambling or
terrorism; violates privacy; damages China’s culture or traditions.”
More damaging still is a requirement that firms distributing online
video or audio be state-owned. If enforced to the letter, the law could
kill the most vibrant media in China today.