In China what can be shown on TV is tightly controlled by the widely-hated SARFT. When a new generation of set-top boxes able to stream online video emerged in the Chinese market, SARFT stepped in, only allowing videos from seven licensed content providers. Connected TVs which have come out since have to play by these regulations too.

Companies like LeTV who offer both set-top boxes/smart TVs and online videos are required to partner with at least one of the licensed video providers. LeTV thus is not allowed to offer its own exclusive content on its set-top boxes or smart TVs.

Xiaomi, which tried to bend the rules by featuring third-party video apps on its set-top box, learned its lesson last year. Now almost all branded set-box or smart TV provider in China have partnered with at least one licensed content provider.

But SARFT is still not satisfied. It issued an order in June this year asking all video providers, including the seven licensees, to remove apps or in-app channels for TV programs from their services or devices: most online video services were offering on-demand video content from TV channels. Now, set-top boxes or smart TVs can only provide videos from the seven licensed sources where TV programs are not available.

Not coincidentally, local manufacturers now plan to produce tablets with screens as big as 55 inches, according to Beijing News. In fact, 55-inch tablets are not new, and are available in Chinese online marketplaces. The one below available on Alibaba is priced at US$150 -250.

Lenovo today unveiled new Yoga tablet models that can be hung on the wall.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2
Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

Could it be that in the near future SARFT will find business have stopped producing TVs in favor of tablets? It’s looking possible.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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