China has called a halt to new foreign investment in TV and film production companies, telling international media groups to work instead through individual projects with local partners.
Move marks the latest setback for foreign media firms trying to find a way into the booming China market. Decision sets aside rules issued in 2004 that allowed foreigners to take a minority stake in local production companies, Zhu Hong, an official of the State Administration of Radio, Film & Television, told the Financial Times.
Beijing has tightened restrictions on foreign involvement in the media in recent years to help boost local firms and allow the government to keep a tight grip on content.
“Our policy is to temporarily not approve the creation of new joint companies,” Zhu was quoted as saying.
“People can jointly invest in filming individual movies and individual television dramas, but we are not going to approve the creation of program production companies,” Zhu told the newspaper.
Zhu said Sarft was not considering expanding the limited rights granted to a handful of foreign TV channels to broadcast in China. As it stands, foreign broadcasters such as News Corp.’s Star TV are shown only in luxury hotels and apartment compounds for foreigners and on cable systems in a small portion of the southern province of Guangdong.
In November, Warner Bros. pulled out of its ventures to open cinemas in China due to changes in regulations.