Advanced Television

China may appeal WTO media ruling

August 14, 2009

China said it would consider launching an appeal against a World Trade Organisation ruling that the US claimed would help open up Chinese markets for media as well as curbing rampant intellectual piracy.The WTO said that it was impermissible to give one state-owned enterprise the monopoly for importing products such as films and books in China, where the government has long exercised strict censorship over the media.

China's Ministry of Commerce said that the channel for importing foreign publications, films and audio-visual products was "very smooth". Beijing "regretted" the fact that the WTO expert panel had not rejected US demands regarding the import and distribution market of these products in China, it said. Hollywood had hailed the ruling as a success but the US acknowledged that the finding, issued in response to a 2007 complaint by Washington, fell far short of all it had asked for, and that serious obstacles remained to importing and distributing films, books, CDs and DVDs in China.

Dan Glickman, chairman and chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America, told the FT he welcomed the prospect of an end to the Chinese government's monopoly over the import of both DVDs and films for show in cinema.

The ruling doesn't affect China's policy of allowing the cinema screening of only 20 films a year – a restriction the movie industry says is deeply unfair given the extent of piracy.

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