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Issue 09, 2005 (01 September)
 Industrial Policy

Cultural Products Import Administration Strengthened

The Measures for Strengthening the Administration of Import of Cultural Products were issued recently to strengthen the administration of cultural products import, protect intellectual property, further open up China to the world and enhance cultural security.

The new measures stipulate that the cultural departments are responsible for the supervision and administration of the import of audio-visual products, works of art and performances. The radio, film and television administration departments are responsible for the supervision and administration of the import of radio and TV programmes, films, TV serials and animations, Sino-foreign co-production of films, TV serials and animations, and the granting of broadcasting rights to overseas satellite TV channels. The press and publication departments are responsible for the supervision and administration of the import of books, newspapers, publications and electronic publications, copyright trade and collaborative publication projects. The commerce bureau and various levels of customs offices are responsible for the supervision and administration of the import of cultural products under their respective purviews.

The state continues to require operation permits for the import of cultural products, and implements a licensing system for business units importing cultural products. Customs offices are responsible for the clearance of imported cultural products.

Under the new measures, the import of cultural products, such as books, newspapers, publications, electronic publications, audio-visual products, films, TV serials, animations and TV programmes, is to be handled by state-owned cultural units designated or authorised by the Ministry of Culture (MOC), State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) or the State Press and Publication Administration (SPPA). Performances in China by overseas groups or individuals have to be arranged through authorised agents.

Agents arranging for overseas groups or individuals to perform in China should apply to MOC for approval. Arrangements for groups or individuals from overseas, Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan to perform on a commercial basis in the mainland should be reported to and approved by provincial cultural departments at the place of performance.

According to the new measures, the import of overseas TV serials, animations and TV programmes should be examined and approved by SARFT. A declaration system is introduced under which imported cultural products have to be declared by authorised importers. The censorship and quantitative control of imported TV serials, animations and TV programmes would be strengthened. Illegal import, broadcasting of pirated copies and illegal online distribution are strictly prohibited.

Under the new measures, the management of applications for the co-production of films, TV serials and animations will be strengthened. Censorship of co-production films, TV serials and animations will be tightened. Permits must be obtained from SARFT for the domestic distribution and screening of co-production films as well as the domestic distribution and broadcasting of co-production TV serials and animations.

The new measures stipulate that in principle, no more permission will be given for foreign satellite TV channels to broadcast in China. The administration of the existing foreign TV channels broadcasting in China will be strengthened. Unauthorised installation or use of satellite TV receptors by individuals and organisations is not allowed. Illegal transmission of foreign satellite TV programmes through various information networks, such as cable TV network and telecommunications network, is strictly prohibited. Unauthorised promotion in China of foreign satellite TV channels and related receptors is strictly prohibited.

The distribution of foreign newspapers and publications in China will be managed by category and operate under a subscription system. Unauthorised sale of foreign newspapers and publications by organisations or individuals is not allowed. Domestic organisations or individuals who wish to subscribe to foreign newspapers and publications from importers should obtain prior approval.

The new measures also require that the administration of copyright trade be strengthened. Control of the total volume of copyright material imported every year is to be tightened. The number of overseas copyright items obtained by publishing companies is also restricted.