China’s two main censorship bodies to merge

The Chinese government’s two main bodies of censorship, SARFT (State Administration for Radio, Film, and Television) and GAPP (General Administration for Press and Publications), are to merge and become one super administration.

Although some denied the reports, the merge was announced during the 2013 session of China’s parliament, with the motion passed in March.

Zhang Jin, deputy editor at  technology publisher Popular Science Press, told state news agency Xinhua:  

Over the last 30 years of the opening up and reform period, both GAPP and SARFT have developed tremendously, but with this development of industry and flourishing of culture, many new problems have risen, for example the lockdown of departments, and individual management by each media type of themselves, and approval [for content] department by department.

GAPP and SARFT didn’t want, under any under circumstances, to deal with each other. GAPP only paid attention to newspapers and print media and not broadcast media, and SARFT doesn’t get the support of the print media, making the merging of industries difficult.

The new body replacing SARFT and GAPP — unofficially translated as the General Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film and Television — will be responsible for regulating and overseeing print media, radio, film, television, as well as the internet. It will also handle rights and contents.

SARFT is the body that censors films — recently facing controversy for cutting science fiction film Cloud Atlas by 40 minutes. GAPP also came under fire earlier this year for overseeing the censoring of newspaper Southern Weekly New Year’s editorial. The Guangdong provincial propaganda chief rewrote the paper’s heading and editorial without consulting editorial staff, forcing the reform-orientated paper to run a piece toeing the official Party line.

While both SARFT and GAPP monitored the internet, the specifics of their responsibilities were never clear — but now new and uniform regulations have been revealed.

The China Press and Publishing Journal reported that there will be three new rules for internet use under the new body: use of news reports from abroad on websites will be forbidden without permission; editorial staff must not use the Internet for illegal content; and the microblog accounts of news media must be supervised, and an account holder appointed.

Whether the merge will create or lessen the chaos surrounding content control still remains to be seen.