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China Approves First Film Law, Includes Moral Code

China this week passed its long-awaited Film Law. It codifies recent regulations against box office fraud and puts emphasis on moral values.

The law, which has been discussed for several years, was approved by the National People’s Standing Committee after a third reading, and differs little from a previous draft that was circulated in November last year. Known as the first film law, it was approved in the same week as another new law on cybersecurity.

The Film Law, which will take effect from March 2017, gives regulators the power to penalize film distributors and theaters which mis-report box office or revenues. Firms can be fines up to five time the value of the earnings and lose their distribution and business licenses, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Box office has come under growing scrutiny for the past couple of years as the scale of the industry ballooned.

The law also sets out moral and Socialist guidelines. “(Films must) serve the people and socialism.” Film makers must have “excellent” moral integrity and “self-discipline.”

It says that foreign film makers “damaging China’s national dignity, honor and interests, or harming social stability or hurting national feelings,” should be penalized.

Foreign companies cannot hold distribution licenses in China, nor can they act as independent producers. But the law does reiterate rules that give official co-production films the same treatment as national films.

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