INTERNET CAFE
Greg Baker  /  AP file
Chinese youth use computers at an Internet cafe in Beijing. China is tightening controls on its booming online game industry, requiring distributors to closely monitor game contents after some were found that included forbidden religious or political material, a state news agency said Dec. 12.
updated 12/12/2006 11:44:02 AM ET 2006-12-12T16:44:02

China is tightening controls on its booming online game industry, requiring distributors to closely monitor game contents after some were found that included forbidden religious or political material, a state news agency said Tuesday.

The announcement adds to government efforts to tighten controls over Chinese newspapers, television and other media.

Distributors must obtain approval to release new games and submit monthly monitoring reports confirming that operators haven't added forbidden content, the Xinhua News Agency said. It cited a notice by the Press and Publication Administration.

China has 23 million online game players, up from 13.8 million in 2003, according to Xinhua. It said revenues this year are expected to reach $850 million.

The latest crackdown was prompted by "a rash of problems with imported online games, some of which contain sensitive religious material or refer to territorial disputes," Xinhua said. It said some were criticized as pornographic or too violent.

The report gave no details about the religious and territorial issues, but the government is sensitive to references to Islam and Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its own territory.

Regulators said distributors concealed the content of the games when applying for approval, and operators sometimes upgraded games with improper content, Xinhua said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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