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Xinhua Insight: Film industry law takes effect, invigorating market
Last Updated: 2017-03-02 08:04 | Xinhua
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A law on the film industry, the first of its kind in China, entered into effect Wednesday, injecting vigor into the development of the world's second largest film market.

The movie market in China has grown by leaps and bounds since 2003, when the country relaxed the number of imported films allowed to be shown in cinemas.

Over the past decade or so, China has seen a 45-fold surge in box office revenue from a mere 1 billion yuan (around 14.5 million U.S. dollars) in 2003 to 45.7 billion yuan in 2016.

"Progress has been made, but problems persist," said Wang Xiaotao, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, highlighting the importance of better rules in the country's film industry.

In March 2016, China's film market watchdog suspended the license of a distributor that inflated the box office receipts for domestic movie "Ip Man 3." However, the pains in China's film market are not limited to box office fraud.

After years of legislative research and three rounds of deliberation, the national legislature adopted the film industry law in November 2016, aiming to address problems, such as red tape in film making approval and a lack of copyright protection.

PUNISHING WRONGS

The "Ip Man 3" case was just the tip of the iceberg, as statistics indicate at least 10 percent of box office takings in China had been fabricated in recent years.

Responding to public concern, the law states that film distributors and theaters falsifying ticket sales data will be liable for administrative punishment, including business suspension, outright bans, and fines up to five times their illegal earnings if such exceed 500,000 yuan.

The protection of intellectual property is also an issue. A quick search through China's social media platforms will turn up pirated movies shared freely on the Internet, with many of the movies still on show in cinemas.

The law explicitly states that those infringing intellectual property rights of films will be punished.

Those engaging in film processing and post-production services for foreign movies with content "damaging China's national dignity, honor and interests, or harming social stability or hurting national feelings," will face punishment, including confiscation of illicit gains, fines and license revocation.

The law was drafted based on China's past experience in the movie industry development, providing solutions to problems plaguing the film market with concrete clauses, according to Wang Chen, vice chairman and secretary-general of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.

SUPPORTING FILM

The law ensures the central government will increase investment in the film industry and reduce taxation.

It also cancels the need for government approvals to shoot films, instead adding a stipulation that film authorities should issue certification or permits for prospective films at the script or abstract stage.

The law states that no film shall contain unconstitutional content or content inciting ethnic hatred or sabotaging national policies concerning religious affairs and social ethics.

"It is a measure to safeguard the country's cultural security and socialist core values," said Li Lianning, deputy chief of the NPC Law Committee.

In the meantime, the law aims to boost domestic movie industry development, stating that domestic films should take up at least two-thirds of total movie run time.

Responding to a string of high-profile arrests of film celebrities involved in drug use and prostitution in recent years, the law specifies that people working in film industry must strive for "excellence in both professional skills and moral integrity," maintain self-discipline and build a positive public image.

Chinese authorities will work on explaining the law and improving related document to regulate the film industry with more specific rules, according to Tong Gang, deputy head of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

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