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China's Media & Entertainment Law (Vol. I) Preface


Since the early 1990s, rapid legislative and industrial reforms have been transforming the PRC media sector. These reforms have been driven in part by a continual demand from within China for new technologies and modernized content and, more recently, by China's WTO accession, which generated renewed interest in China on the part of foreign investors. As the Chinese economy has developed, the number of households reached by television broadcasts and the Internet has steadily increased. The rise in disposable income, particularly in the larger coastal cities, and the growth of a wealthy middle class, have further fueled the expansion and diversification of Chinese media.

While China as a whole has become increasingly investor-friendly, its media sector remains highly restricted. This is due largely to the fact that the media continues to be primarily state-run and subject to government censorship. All forms of media are controlled in China as a means of mass propaganda and to serve "socialist spiritual" goals. However, as China becomes integrated into the global economy and its markets become deregulated pursuant to WTO obligations, foreign investment opportunities in the media sector will proliferate; indeed, there are signs that they already have. Increasing numbers of foreign technology, films, print publications and television programs are also being introduced into China, and pressure is being exerted from both inside and outside the country for the government to allow greater foreign investment and content in the Chinese media and entertainment industries. However, in keeping with its traditional policies, Beijing will likely remain adamant for the foreseeable future in its desire to control what information is disseminated over the media, and to whom.

The tension between the desire to maintain censorship and the need to accommodate further industry development has resulted in legislation that is highly complex and frequently ambiguous. In addition, the introduction of new technologies and their convergence within the media sector has led to bickering among regulatory authorities and potentially conflicting regulations. Matters are further complicated by legislation at the local level, which varies by region, and in some cases is promulgated ahead of, or even in contravention to, related national-level laws.

This book therefore represents an attempt to provide a transparent and comprehensive guide to Chinese media and entertainment-related legislation as it currently stands, by presenting regulations alongside practical commentaries on their actual implementation. Much of the commentaries in this publication reflects practical experience garnered over the years as a result of representing leading media companies, both Chinese and international. Therefore, hopefully, our book will help readers to study, interpret and follow the legislative developments in this dynamic sector of China.

While we have taken every care to ensure that the English translations of legislation are completely accurate, some oversights may have occurred due to invariably the complicated background of the language in which they were written. In the event of any uncertainty, we urge our readers to refer to the original Chinese text.

We welcome any comments on this book, as well as any suggestions as to what should be added or amended for subsequent editions. Looking forward, we hope to include in the next volumes of this book chapters covering sports, music and intellectual property, as well as updated information on the topics covered in this volume.

Jesse T H Chang, Isabelle I H Wan and Philip Qu
September 2003