Di Wu and Teresa Huang
In order to further strengthen the professional ethics of Internet anchors and standardize their professional behavior, on June 8, 2022, the National Radio and Television Administration and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism jointly issued the Code of Conduct for Internet Anchors (hereinafter referred to as the “Code”). The Code has a total of eighteen articles, mainly covering the definition of the subject, behavior standards, prohibited acts, supervision and management of Internet anchors, etc. Specifically, the following contents should be focused on:
I. Definition of Internet Anchors
According to the Code, anchor personnel who provide online performance and audio-visual program services through the Internet, including those who broadcast live on online platforms, conduct real-time interactions with users, and make voice appearances in the form of uploading audio and video programs, shall abide by the Code. Even the virtual anchors and content synthesized by artificial intelligence technology shall refer to the Code.
Therefore, the persons making appearances through the Internet and virtual anchors who implement any of the above acts shall follow the requirements of the Code to restrain their behavior.
II. Behavior Standards
The Code mainly sets out standard requirements for the behavior of Internet anchors in terms of legality, values, creative orientation, interactive behavior, appearance image, appearance language, professional qualifications, and tax payment according to law.
In short, Internet anchors who make appearances through the Internet shall comply with relevant national laws and regulations, adhere to the people-centered creative orientation, actively practice the core socialist values, adhere to a healthy style and taste, interact in a civilized manner, maintain a good sound screen image, pay attention to the protection of others’ privacy, protect intellectual property rights, truthfully declare their income and pay taxes, and consciously strengthen their studies on professional skills. For live broadcast content that requires a high level of professionalism (such as medical and health care, finance, law, education), the anchor shall obtain the corresponding practice qualifications, and report the practice qualification to the live broadcast platform, and the live broadcast platform shall conduct qualification review and recordation for the anchor.
III. Prohibited Acts
The Code not only positively stipulates the code of conduct by which Internet anchors shall abide, but also negatively clarifies the acts that Internet anchors should not commit, including 31 items such as not to publish content that violates laws and regulations, endangers national security, subverts national sovereignty and national unity, subverts the leadership of the Communist Party of China, distorts traditional Chinese culture or revolutionary martyrs, promotes religious extremism, obscene, gambling, terrorist and other undesirable information, and not to violate the privacy of others or intellectual property rights, hype up “hot spots”, or promote extravagance and waste, etc. For details, please refer to the original text of the Code.
IV. Supervision and Management
In addition to the requirements on specific behavior, the Code also make provisions on the supervision and management of Internet anchors’ behavior. Firstly, Internet anchors shall abide by the online real-name system for account registration, and standardize the use of account names. Secondly, the Code also provides that online performance and audio-visual platforms, and brokerage agencies must strictly perform their statutory duties and obligations, and implement their subject responsibilities. In addition, they shall strengthen the education and training, daily management and normative guidance of Internet anchors in accordance with the Code. Moreover, they shall establish and improve internal systems and norms for Internet anchors’ entry, training, daily management, business scoring files, and “red and yellow card” management. Thirdly, the Code also stipulates that all relevant industry associations shall strengthen guidance, establish and improve the credit evaluation system for Internet anchors, and regularly announce Internet anchors who violate laws and regulations, violate morality and cause bad social impact, and guide all platforms to boycott and punish them severely.
Overall, the Code provides a basis for regulating the behavior of Internet anchors. It is recommended that all Internet anchors, broadcast platforms and brokerage agencies should take the Code as a reference to review their own behavior and improve their internal management system, so as not to affect the normal operation of their anchor business due to violating the requirements of the Code.