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China’s Top TV Producers Agree to Cap Star Salaries

Nine leading Chinese television producers have signed an agreement that puts an upper limit on the salaries of the country’s best-paid actors and actresses. The move means that performers can earn no more than $145,000 (RMB1 million) per episode and no more than $7.25 million (RMB50 million) per season, no matter how many episodes of a show they star in.

The agreement has been on the table for some months and was signed last week. Variety has confirmed that Huace Media and online streaming giant iQIYI are among the signatories. Local media reports say the others are streamers Youku and Tencent Video, producers Linmon Pictures, New Classics Media, Daylight Entertainment, Ciwen Media and Youhug Media.

The move follows the scandal that emerged after a TV celebrity leaked details of another star’s multiple contracts for a few days of filming. It has been widely reported that Fan Bingbing was the star in question on Huayi Brothers Media’s “Cell Phone 2.” Both Fan and Huayi have denied the accusations.

Following guidelines recently set in the feature film sector, the new TV deal limits star salaries to no more than 40% of the budget. No more than 70% of the total salary pool can go to a single performer.

It’s been further reported that, last Tuesday, China’s tax authorities have steeply raised the rates of taxation that apply to star salaries. The measure appears to have retrospective effect, backdated to Jan. 1 this year.

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