BEIJING (AP) — China has imposed a moratorium on new foreign investment in film and TV production companies, a news report on Friday quoted a regulatory official as saying. The decision sets aside rules issued in 2004 that allowed foreigners to take minority stakes in local production companies, Zhu Hong, an official of the State […]
BEIJING (AP) — China has imposed a moratorium on new foreign investment in film and TV production companies, a news report on Friday quoted a regulatory official as saying.
The decision sets aside rules issued in 2004 that allowed foreigners to take minority stakes in local production companies, Zhu Hong, an official of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, told The Financial Times.
Such a move would be a blow to foreign media companies that are eager to tap a Chinese market with 400 million increasingly affluent TV viewers and booming video sales.
“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.”
The Financial Times didn’t say whether Zhu gave a reason for the moratorium or when it might end.
Phone calls Friday to Zhu’s office weren’t answered.
Another official, Liu Chun, of the International Exchange Division of SARFT’s Film Bureau, denied that the agency had such a policy.
Employees who answered phones in the agency’s publicity office and its European-U.S. Cooperation Department said they hadn’t heard of such a change.
Beijing has tightened curbs on foreign media involvement over the past two years, both to protect Chinese companies from competition and to maintain the communist government’s control over what the public sees and hears.
Officials disclosed earlier this year that the government had suspended approval of new Chinese-foreign magazine joint ventures without publicizing the change.
Regulators also have restricted use of foreign programming on Chinese television.
Zhu told The Financial Times that SARFT isn’t considering expanding the limited rights granted to a handful of foreign television channels to broadcast in China.
News Corp.’s Star TV and other competitors are allowed to be shown in luxury hotels, apartment compounds for foreigners and on cable systems in a small portion of the southern province of Guangdong.
Warner Bros., a unit of New York-based Time Warner Inc., said in November it was pulling out of its ventures to open cinemas in China due to changes in regulations.
That followed a news report that the government had cut the 75 percent share that foreign investors had been allowed to own in cinema ventures to a minority stake.
In October, Viacom Inc.’s MTV Networks announced a venture with Chinese search engine Baidu.com to distribute programs over the Internet in an apparent effort to circumvent broadcast restrictions.