The first set of laws and regulations targeting China's cultural industry officially came into effect on March 1.
The long-awaited Film Promotion Law was approved by the central government on Nov 7, 2016. In addition to promoting the film industry, as the name suggests, the broader purpose of the law includes promoting socialist values in China and regulating the domestic film market.
As the new Film Promotion Law states, failure to report true figures on box office earnings may attract fines up to 500,000 yuan (roughly $73,000). For the first time, the new law also emphasizes "Socialist core values" from cast and crew, demanding excellence in both performing skills and moral integrity from those who work in the film industry.
Tough line on box office frauds
To crackdown on fraudulent reports on box office earnings, the Film Promotion Law states that theaters should install a computerized ticket sales system in accordance to regulations set by the country.
Theaters that fail to comply will be penalized. Film distributors and theaters that exaggerate box office earnings, which distorts the film market, will be sanctioned by the government from the county-level and could also lead to action from higher levels of government. A fine of up to 500,000 yuan may be imposed and earnings obtained illegally will be confiscated. For illegally obtained earnings above 500,000 yuan, a fine up to five times the amount earned will be imposed. Depending on the severity of the offence, businesses may be suspended and licenses revoked.
"Socialist core values" of cast and crew
Various cases of artists committing misdeeds such as using illegal drugs, engaging prostitutes and other offences have emerged in recent years. This is a bad look for the film industry and unhealthy for cultural development as a whole. The Film Promotion Law states that actors, directors and other professionals in the film industry must not only possess high artistic skills, but also abide by socialist core values, have high social and moral standards, follow the professional code of conduct, comply with the law and build an excellent social image.
Illegal recording of a movie during its screening in a theater will be strictly prohibited. Theater personnel have the right to stop such behavior and demand the content be deleted from recording devises. Viewers who fail to comply may be asked to leave immediately.
The law also states that theaters should reasonably allocate showing schedules for domestic productions; no less than two-thirds of all screening times should be dedicated to domestic productions each year.
Ban on commercials during screening
The Film Promotion Law prohibits commercials during a film screening. Theaters who violate the law will be warned, and face fines between 10,000 and 50,000 yuan.
The law also encourages theaters to show charitable commercials prior to showings.