China's Propaganda Department to Regulate Film Industry

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Xi Jinping

The emergence of the plan comes in the wake of a sweeping shake-up of China's central government structure.

The regulation of China's film and television industries will now fall under the direct control of the Communist Party's propaganda department. 

The new structure comes in the wake of a sweeping shake-up of central government organization last week, which included the elimination of the the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), the regulatory body that had overseen the country's media and entertainment industries for a generation. 

The propaganda department takeover was revealed in an official document that circulated widely online in China on Tuesday. The document, apparently produced by the National Development and Reform Commission, said the changes had been approved Tuesday by China's rubber-stamp legislature and were effective immediately. 

The changes indicate a tightening of control over China's film and TV industries, a move many will likely view as ominous for China's already limited freedoms of expression. 

The document reads: "After the adjustment, the central department will manage all film administrative affairs, guide and supervise film production, release dates and screening work, organize the censorship of film contents, guide and coordinate major film events, oversee co-productions and internal cooperation and exchange regarding film import and export."

Some local media coverage of the news included photos of members of the Chinese public posing in front of SAPPRFT's offices in Beijing, marking the occasion before the administrations abolishment. 

The coming shake-up of China's regulatory mechanisms were first unveiled in a set of documents presented to the People’s Congress for deliberation last week. Initial coverage in the Chinese state press indicated that media and entertainment oversight would become a higher, cabinet-level responsibility; but it wasn't immediately clear whether it would fall under the purview of the Ministry of Culture, Propaganda or Publicity. 

More to come ...