In a move that could help reduce red tape for foreign producers, China’s State Administration of Press Publication, Radio, Film and Television says it will excise 20 items from its roster of responsibilities, in effect relaxing some of its notorious censorship rules. Most notable among the cancelled regs is a stipulation that the org must approve film scripts that deal with “general topics.” All films, be they local movies or co-productions, have traditionally been required to submit a full script in order to gain approval for shooting. Now, say local reports, productions with “regular themes” will only be required to submit a synopsis or treatment, rather than a full script. What skews as “regular” or “general” is understood to include works that don’t touch on religion, ethnic groups, foreign affairs and “other special topics,” says industry site FilmBizAsia. (Some filmmakers have called for clarification of the terms.)
The move is a step towards cutting out some of the bureaucracy involved in getting a film approved, but FilmBizAsia notes that submitting only a script summary has already been an informal practice for local films for the past few years. Extending the new rules to co-productions would help reduce some of the hurdles for foreign companies who are eager to work in China. In further good news, the government eliminated the need to approve imported filmmaking equipment and stock, the Xinhua news agency said. On the TV side, there will be a decentralization of certain responsibilities with provincial departments now overseeing censorship of domestic programs that feature foreign producers. The State Administration of Press Publication, Radio, Film and Television was formed in March of this year via a merger of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) and the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). The move was seen as one that would help to streamline China’s clearance of entertainment content.