China Crackdown on Podcasts

Audio apps are becoming increasingly popular in China. In fact, market research from iiMedia shows the number of Chinese online listeners currently exceeds 400 million, representing a significant growth of 22.1% compared to figures from the previous year.

On Friday, however, eyebrows were raised as the Chinese government clamped down on the sector, ordering twenty-six audio-centric apps to suspend, and in some cases, terminate their services. 

This news follows last month’s reports that Apple has imposed new restrictions that prevent Chinese listeners from accessing podcasts not hosted by local partners. Ultimately, this means anyone with a Chinese Apple account is unable to listen to content that is not regulation compliantSocial media users expressed concern as they noticed China’s top podcast sharing app Himalaya FM and its smaller rival Lizhi FM, for example, have disappeared from certain Chinese Android markets.

It’s hardly the first time the country has targeted media platforms. In 2018, the government instructed Douyin (the Chinese answer to TikTok), Kashiaou and several others to remove “illicit” material from their apps. In 2017, it was live stream apps under fire. 

It seems the Chinese government is keeping an eye on the audio space, a nod to the potential impact of podcasts as a means of mass communication.