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China Movie Industry Oversight Shifted to Communist Propaganda Department

Movie and TV industry regulation in China has been moved under the direct control of the propaganda department of the Communist Party, in a further centralization of power under Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The move, announced Tuesday, follows last week’s news that the State Administration for Film Radio Press Publishing and Television (SAPPRFT) would be scrapped and replaced with a new body reporting to the State Council, or cabinet of ministers. The new shift to propaganda department control was approved by China’s National People’s Congress and goes into immediate effect.

In a highly symbolic indicator, the so-called Dragon Mark – the on-screen title card that for years has appeared before the screening of a film officially approved for release – will disappear.

The abolition and replacement of SAPPRFT had been floated for a couple of weeks, but it was not immediately clear how it would happen. Some sources reported that the body would be absorbed into the Ministry of Culture, while others reported a merger with the propaganda or publicity department. The situation may become clearer in the coming days with the appointment of someone to head the new State Administration of Radio and TV.

“The main duties of the State Administration of Radio and TV Affairs are to implement the [Communist] Party’s propaganda policies and policies, formulate policies and measures for radio and television management, and supervise the implementation thereof,” an announcement from China Film group said.

The move is likely to interpreted as a further tightening of regulatory control of the film and TV sectors, and increased involvement of the Communist Party in media matters. That would be in line with recent trends in China.

Many of the measures unveiled in the recent “Two Sessions” of China’s parliament have further eroded any separation of powers between the organs of state and the control of the ruling Communist Party. Xi, who in addition to being president is general secretary of the party, told the closing session of congress Tuesday that the party is “the leader of everything.” He said that all other parties, organizations and people should unite around the core of the Communist Party.

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