DisneyLife users reported in early March that their access to the subscription service had failed.
According to the South China Morning Post, Beijing quietly passed a new law regulation media content, which makes it easier for China’s censors to pull the plug on content they feel is inappropriate. President Xi Jinping has been especially critical of “Western influences” on Chinese society and, especially, politics.
It emerged on Friday that the two internet platforms were quietly closed under the new Regulation for the Management of Online Publishing Services, which was announced on February 13 and took effect early last month.
It imposed more stringent rules on the online publication of original or adapted “creative works”, such as images, games, animation, comics, audio recordings and video.
DisneyLife was a joint venture of the Walt Disney Co. and Alibaba’s Ali Digital Entertainment Group. Alibaba is a mainland e-commerce giant now branching out into other activities. It now owns South China Morning Post, for example.
Under the new regulation, content providers must “self-censor” and abide by prevailing mainland Internet standards. Failure to comply gives the censors the right to shut off access to the service.
Despite the new law, China’s determined netizens will find ways to circumvent the blockade.
On a related, more personal note, the Internet TV service I was using for nearly a year is now all but gone. The subscription cable TV channels are no longer available; only Free-to-Air channels remain. And the WeChat account and website of the Shanghai-based firm offering the service are now gone. While I can’t be sure, the timing suggests the service was also a victim of the new law, since it allowed subscribers access to hundreds of foreign TV channels — exactly the kind of access Beijing does not want Chinese people to have.