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China to curb streaming of feature films

MUMBAI: After blocking several websites, China is all set to further step up the censorship on web-based content by curbing the streaming of feature films.

The move is part of a set of tough new rules that until now mostly had been aimed at overseas TV dramas, according to Hollywood Reporter.

Last week there were reports that the rules had been extended to include Hong Kong TV shows. The report mentions that 1 April is the key date when the new rules come into force.

Until late last year, online video sites largely were self-censoring. But the government is cracking down hard on pornography, violence or anything that might challenge the authority of the ruling Communist Party and Hollywood movies are the next target of the campaign.

Independent Film & Television Alliance president and CEO Jean Prewitt told HR that the size of China’s massive market makes it essential for the success of the independent film and TV industries. “China has not yet eliminated historical barriers for imported films, but television opportunities have existed. Any steps to create new barriers through censorship or other regulations seriously threaten the ability of independents to access distribution opportunities. IFTA strongly advocates that all trade barriers be eliminated including expanded and unwarranted censorship regulations.”

China is the world’s second-biggest movie market. Hollywood studios have started reaping profits from selling content to sites like Youku Tudou, Baidu’s iQIYI, and Tencent. But negotiating its regulatory environment can be tricky and censorship of movies online would make the market more challenging and could also encourage piracy.