China plans tighter laws on film and cinema content

A Chinese woman checks what movies are playing at a cinema in Beijing, 8 November 2011 China 's film industry has boomed in recent years

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China has proposed a new law to ban film content which it deems to disturb social stability or promote religious fanaticism.

The Movie Industry Promotion Bill would also forbid foreign firms or individuals from filming without a government-sanctioned partner.

Correspondents say this is part of an overall tightening of China's grip over its cultural industries.

China has long banned the screening of films deemed politically sensitive.

And some film-makers have steered clear of controversial issues likely to upset the authorities, observers say.

But this draft bill adds even more categories open to censorship. It states that films must not harm national honour and interest, incite ethnic hatred, spread "evil cults" or superstition, or propagate obscenity, gambling, drug abuse, violence or terror.

It was published on Thursday and is open for a month-long public consultation. It is not clear when the bill might become law.

The bill also bans films from being shown or sent to film festivals without a licence.

Processing Chinese films outside China or having foreign films processed in China will also require prior approval from the authorities.

Those who break the rules will be fined for a maximum of 1m yuan ($157,000; £101,000), and the film company's licence could be revoked.

However, the bill also guarantees various tax concessions for the industry.

The draft law comes as more Chinese people opt for the cinema as entertainment, boosting box office takings by more than 60% last year to about 10.2bn yuan ($1.5bn; £966m).

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