Hong Kong Filmart: China Readies New Film Regulations

Industry leaders have hailed the dawning a new era for streaming content, but new rules due to come in effect on April 1 will give the Chinese censors more power to block movies and TV shows.

Chinese audiences and streaming companies are waiting anxiously to assess the impact of a raft of tough new rules next week that will require close censorship of feature films, TV shows and other digital content.

China is the world’s second-biggest film market, and Hollywood studios have started reaping profits from selling content to sites such as Youku Tudou, Baidu’s iQIYI, Sohu.com and Tencent.

At Filmart forums, officials and industry leaders have hailed the dawning a new era for streaming content, but new rules due to come in effect on April 1 will give the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) more power to block movies and TV shows.

Local companies were resigned to the tougher environment, but were also waiting to see how the rules would be implemented and enforced. “The government regulations were made last year [and] we began to adapt back then, so that when April 1 comes around, we’ll be ready,” said a spokesperson for a large online streaming service who requested anonymity.

The new rules are most likely to affect overseas content. SAPPRFT must approve all foreign TV shows before they can be posted on video sites, and producers must present the whole season for approval before it can be screened, which could cause delays for shows such as Game of Thrones, The Newsroom and Band of Brothers. The rules have also reportedly been extended to include Hong Kong TV shows.

Online commentators have their own take on the regulations. Some online commentators have warned that the move could see a return to the days of pirate DVD stores selling fake box sets of U.S. TV shows. Said a Weibo user named Shamo: “Now it is time for the DVD stalls, which have been silent for years, to make a comeback.”

comments powered by Disqus