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Chinese State Regulators Ease Film, TV Censorship

Bureaucratic streamlining means simpler script approvals

HONG KONG – Chinese regulators are to ease up on film and TV censorship, according to state media sources.

Film-makers will in future only be required to submit treatments for approval, rather than full screenplays, if they are dealing with “general subjects.”

The easing was one of 20 measures to streamline government functions across the entertainment and media sectors, and was reported by the Xinhua news agency and official newspapers.

The move was announced by the State Council on behalf of the newly-formed State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

Other measures include elimination of the need to approve imported equipment, film and state property for movie productions by Chinese and foreign partners; and the shifting of responsibility for censoring domestic TV productions that involve foreign producers from central to provincial authorities.

For film-makers the move is a small but welcome change that alters little in practice. State censors, now coping with a huge swell in production volume, have for a couple of year been prepared to accept synopses and treatments and to help producers work through the bureaucratic process. However, there remains a high degree of uncertainty over the definition of the general topics category.

In broader terms it is unclear whether the move is a sign of more liberal policy lines, or an example of the kind of bureaucratic streamlining that the new unified regulator can achieve.

The SGAPPRFT was formed earlier this year as an amalgamation of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), which was responsible for broadcast media and film, and the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), which dealt with print media and books.

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