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China Eases Restrictions on Access for Hong Kong Films and TV Series

Three years into the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), China has eased restrictions on access to the mainland market for Hong Kong's film and television industry, a senior official said here Thursday.

Zhao Shi, deputy director with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), said at a news briefing that quota restrictions on the number of Hong Kong films in the mainland market have been largely lifted.

Hong Kong films were previously classified as international and only 20 foreign productions a year were allowed on the mainland.

Films produced by Hong Kong companies can now be distributed on the mainland provided they have been imported by the China Film Group Corporation and gone through the film censorship process, according to Zhao.

Hong Kong companies were previously restricted to building just one cinema on the mainland, but are now allowed to open multiplexes either on their own or with joint venture partners.

About 14 cinemas on the mainland are operated or partly owned by Hong Kong companies and all are doing well, Zhao said.

Films co-produced by Hong Kong and mainland companies can now draw up to two thirds of their talent from Hong Kong, much more than in the past, Zhao added.

Altogether 29 films were co-produced by Hong Kong and mainland companies last year, triple the number of co-productions before CEPA came into force in 2003, figures from the SARFT show.

Television co-productions also enjoy easy access to the mainland market, according to Zhao. They can be screened directly on the mainland and restrictions on length - limited to 40 episodes previously - have also been lifted.

Zhao also said that Hong Kong cable TV network operators are now allowed to provide technological support to Guangdong Province to develop their networks.

(China Daily September 15, 2006)

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