Plans for a Hong Kong listing by state-controlled China Film Group, the country's dominant movie producer, have been blocked indefinitely by Beijing authorities amid a tightening of limits on foreign involvement in media and entertainment.
The decision to bar the listing by China Film, controlled by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (Sarft), the Chinese industry regulator, highlights the determination of senior Beijing leaders to limit the pace of opening the media.
Sarft officials said late last year that China Film would spin off operating assets to form a listed company as part of a broad shift to introduce foreign and private investment and capital to the local movie industry.
However, a senior manager at another state film company said recently that when China Film sought approval for the listing it was blocked by senior officials of the ruling Communist party.
"China Film sent up a report, and its [listing plan] was shut down directly," the manager said. "Now its pretty much impossible, since they have been given a very clear reply."
An official at China Film confirmed that the group's plans to hold a listing later this year had been blocked, but declined to say when the decision was made or give other details.
Sarft has in recent years been keen to push reforms that will help China's media industry to produce films, TV programmes and other content that will be able to better meet soaring demand from a more affluent population.
Foreign and private investment and expertise are seen as vital in turning media companies from propaganda arms of the state into pillars of the economy.
Revitalising China Film, which also controls the movie channel broadcast by leading state broadcaster CCTV, could have helped efforts to turn around the struggling movie industry and helped it compete against increasing competition from Hollywood.
However, the prospect of increased overseas involvement in the film and TV sectors has also raised concerns among party officials that the government could lose its power over what Chinese citizens see on their screens.
The Communist party's propaganda department recently announced a tightening of controls over foreign involvement in the media sector that it said were intended to protect national cultural security.
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