Inspur Seeks to Lighten Chinese Censors’ Load With New Platform

Inspur Group Ltd. has pitted its computers against those of foreign rivals in industries such as aeronautics and banking. Now the server maker is tackling another critical arena: Chinese censorship.

The world’s fifth largest maker of servers, the Shandong, China-based company is marketing a data-storage and management system designed to make it easier for censors to screen more than 400 TV series in China every year, a process it said is currently wasteful and laborious.

Called the AS10000, Inspur’s platform may not do all the censors’ work for them, but may ease the burden on the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the government agency responsible for reviewing and approving TV series before broadcast, the company said.

“How to review 10,000 TV episodes? Inspur’s AS10000 can help,” the company said in a public WeChat social media post on July 28. “As the number of TV programs continues to grow, content becomes more diverse and the demands on reviewers rise, the difficulty of the work also increases.”

“Backward systems can no longer keep pace with the demands of this fast-paced environment.”

The country maintains a tight grip over what’s allowed on TV, part of a censorship regime geared toward blocking content deemed a threat to social stability. Episodes need to be handed in to censors for approval, and content deemed violent, sexual or offensive to the ruling Communist Party can be cut, according to government notices.

Snipping Shows

Last year, four U.S. shows, including The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife, were removed without warning from Chinese video sites. In December, episodes of a popular Tang dynasty drama were briefly taken down then returned with shots re-cropped to move actresses’ cleavage below the TV frame.

Two calls to the adminstration’s media office rang unanswered today.

Rooting out offensive material can require manual loading of DVDs and physical storage of media. In its WeChat post, Inspur promised to streamline the system using digital storage, data sharing and other technologies.

“An auto-checking system enhances efficiency of review and helps the government find out if a series of TV dramas violate regulations and have factual errors,” Inspur said in its post. The system can search, review and provide statistical analysis of television series’ content.

Modern storage “will support the needs of the agency for many years to come.”

Inspur had 3.4 percent of total server shipments in the first quarter, according to IT research house Gartner. It has benefited from China’s push to champion homegrown technology, an effort motivated in part by its desire for greater control over media content and the Internet.

— With assistance by Haixing Jin

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