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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A TV showing a press conference of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang appears after the closing session of the National People’s Congress at a vegetable store in Beijing, China, May 28, 2020. Photo: Tingshu Wang/Reuters

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China will introduce new rules on June 30 to regulate how agencies that manage online celebrities and influencers operate, China’s broadcasting regulator said on Monday.

Regulators blamed these agencies, known as multi-channel networking companies (MCNs), for encouraging behaviors such as unrestrained celebrity worship and fights between fan clubs, often involving minors.

Earlier this month, China ordered internet platforms to tighten controls on how people under the age of 18 use streaming services as part of an ongoing government crackdown on the booming sector.

The National Radio and Television Administration said on its website Monday that MCN companies are licensed to operate, and must follow rules regarding content and the types of customers they can serve.

They are also responsible for how the fan groups are managed under their wing.

The MCN industry has experienced rapid growth in China in recent years thanks to the increasing popularity of media such as live broadcasts. In 2020, research consulting firm iiMedia Research reported that there are more than 28,000 MCN agencies in China.

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