Between formal and informal : the shakeout in China’s online video industry
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, its 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 analyzing the aim and consequences of the state action, I point to the counter-productive effect in terms of cultural loss and the resurgence of offline piracy; and show the positive impact on forcing the informal into the formal sector, and pressuring the formal to innovate. Meanwhile, an increasing rapprochement between professional and user-created content leads to a new relationship between formal and informal sectors. This case demonstrates the importance of considering the dynamics between the two sectors. It also offers compelling evidence of the role of the informal sector in engendering state action, which in turn impacted on the co-evolution of the formal and the informal sectors.
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