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China tightens film censorship

Gov't bans 13 types of content

China is continuing to tighten censorship with draconian new laws blocking pics that harm national honor, incite race hatred, spread “evil cults” or superstition, propagate obscenity, or encourage gambling, drug abuse, violence or terror.

The government’s Film Industry Promotion Law, banning 13 types of content, is aimed at maintaining social stability.

While strong censorship exists already, and there is nothing especially new in the regulations, the draft bill highlights just how challenging the Chinese film biz remains for Hollywood and others trying to break into the booming market.

The timing of the new rules, ahead of a leadership change next year, is also significant, while the vague terms of the law mean that it can be used widely to ban any movies that the Communist Party doesn’t like.

Films can also be banned for inciting resistance or destruction of the constitution, national law and regulations; or for inciting religious fanaticism, harming religious harmony and impinging on people’s right to worship.

It’s not all bad news for those working in the biz. The draft law covers specific theater-related aspects, such as banning theaters from showing ads after the film’s scheduled start time, support for the film industry in rural areas, and a ban on carrying explosives or radioactive items into cinemas. It requires all new movie-houses to be built to a certain standard, to use computerized ticketing systems and forbids cinemas from withholding B.O. figures.

It comes against the background of a broader crackdown on cultural industries, which earlier this year were identified as a major growth area by the government. Beijing is particularly concerned by the rise of social media and microblogs, such as the Chinese version of the banned Twitter, called Weibo, which people use as a forum for debate in a way the Party sees as threatening.

The government also introduced limits on reality TV skeins and other shows.

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