Heading a major delegation of Chinese officials and programme makers at the MIP-COM television market, Zhao Shi, deputy minister of the State Administration of Radio, Film & TV (SARFT) said China welcomes outside input into the development of its broadcast industry. But she said that China is not about to accelerate openness for the sake of foreign companies.
Zhao said there had been large strides made over the last 20 years. ''China's industry has benefited from the input of foreign cultures. The industry will in the new century keep embracing the outside world with open arms. China's reform and opening up policy is not made up of empty words.''
But she laid out laid out conditions for foreign investment in the country's burgeoning cable sector, which is already estimated to count 90 million households. She said SARFT is ''negotiating with a number of international companies including News Corp and AOL Time Warner'', which are respectively seeking Chinese approval for their Phoenix TV and Hong Kong-based CETV. She said that foreign operators would not be allowed to expand beyond the Guangdong province in the South.
''Openness is limited,'' she said of further film-sector liberalization. ''And the move into the WTO does not necessarily bring with it further openness on the TV or radio side.'' She said that imported pictures already account for a quarter of all films shown on the China Central TV-6 film channel and that since 1996 the channel has licensed some 350 French films.
''In film there are two concrete proposals. The first is that domestic [Chinese] films will represent a minimum of a third of films distributed to theatres but within that third remaining for imported films the number to use revenue share can increase from ten a year to 20. If the volume of domestic production rises, the number of imported films can do so too.
''The second proposal allows foreign capital to be invested in the building and renovation of film theatres, up to a maximum of 49%. There are already many successful examples.''