In yet another attempt to restrict the media (read: freedom of expression and speech), China has banned content deemed against the state’s socialist values.
The country passed a long-discussed law for films on subjects that “defame the people’s excellent cultural traditions.” It outlaws content that incites opposition against the government, harms sovereignty, unity and Chinese security, exposes national secrets or promote alleged extremist or terrorist behavior in the state.
Meanwhile, the new regulations, approved by the National People’s Congress, also support domestic films that “champion excellent Chinese culture and socialist core values.”
Currently, China has a quota that allows the release of only 34 films each year and all of them are subject to censorship if the content contains nudity or is politically sensitive. Previously, the government placed a ban on Brad Pitt for starring in the 1997 film “Seven Years in Tibet” and for sympathizing with Dalai Lama.
Predictably, the competition to make it to the approved films list is intense and Hollywood studios have been known to go to great lengths in order to capitalize on China’s immense markets. Many filmmakers have sought partnerships with Chinese movie companies and the co-produced films can bypass quota if they have enough content glorifying China.
Anyone caught hyping up box office numbers to add to the marketing buzz will have their legitimate earnings confiscated and will be fined up to 500,000 yuan ($73,744). If the film managed to earn revenue of more than 500,000 yuan ($73,744) in unlawful profits, the penalty can become five times as much as their illegal earnings.
Depending on how serious the infarction is, the production companies can even have their operations banned in China. Earlier this year, the country suspended one of its own distributors, Beijing Max Screen, for showing inflated ticket sales of “Ip Man 3” and also purchasing 56 million yuan ($8.6million) worth of ticket themselves to create hype.
The new law will go into effect on March 1, 2017.