Between formal and informal: The shakeout in China's online video industry
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While a rich body of literature in television and film studies and media policy studies has tended to focus on the media activities in the formal sector, we know much less about informal media activities, their influence on state policies, as well as the dynamics between the formal and the informal sectors. This article examines these issues with reference to a particularly revealing period following a large-scale government crackdown on peer-to-peer video-sharing sites in China in 2008. By analysing the aim and consequences of the state action, we point to the counter-productive effects in terms of cultural loss and the resurgence of offline piracy; we show the positive impact on forcing the informal into the formal sector, and pressuring the latter to innovate. Meanwhile, increasing rapprochement between professional and user-created content is leading to a new relationship between formal and informal sectors. This case demonstrates the importance of considering the dynamic relationship between the two sectors. It also offers compelling evidence of the role of the informal sector in engendering state action, which in turn impacts on the co-evolution of formal and informal sectors. © The Author(s) 2013.
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