Eradicating tacit rules key to clean cultural industry

By Liu Zhun Source:Global Times Published: 2015-2-11 0:13:01

China's corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), has confirmed its wide-ranging anti-graft campaign is taking aim at the entertainment industry. During an online interview in late January, Li Qiufang, member of the Central Committee of the CCDI, said the industry is "not an entirely pure land." As head of the CCDI disciplinary inspection squad in the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, Li said that television and film sectors are becoming highly profitable, and so run the risk of becoming corrupt.

Li has pointed out that the procurement and marketing of TV dramas, films, grand galas, the purchase of equipment, advertising, news reporting and overseas bureaus are more likely to fall into corruption. According to Li, the efforts to put the kibosh on corruption will be based on thorough and deep investigations.

The flourishing Chinese cultural industry draws bundles of cash into many sub-fields. China now boasts the second-largest global film market with the box office amounting to $4.8 billion in 2014. The advertising revenue of Chinese TV stations surpassed 130 billion yuan ($20.79 billion) in 2013. In an industry with profits there for the taking, if there are no effective regulatory restraints, then the incidence of corruption is likely to increase.

Chinese showbiz is scoffed at by the public as a "messy circle," referring to the high frequency of scandals, some of which are contrived by entertainment moguls and a few industry regulators for ill-gotten gains. There have been calls for austerity in this increasingly extravagant industry in Chinese society for several years. However, many "tacit rules" are entrenched within the industry, with numerous profitable deals done under the table, thus worsening the corruption. Last year's anti-corruption campaign focused on the political and economic spheres. However, connections to the cultural industry were found in many of these cases, in particular entertainment such as television and film. Since last year, several executives from both central and local TV stations have been snared, such as Guo Zhenxi, director of the finance and economics channel of China Central Television, and Zhang Suzhou, former president of Anhui TV. They both allegedly took huge sums of money in bribes.

The key to the new phase of fighting corruption is how to put the operations of the cultural industry back on track after these tacit rules are shattered. The challenges rest on destroying the stubborn and negative system, but the onus will be on how to build a sustainable framework where all parties, including regulators and practitioners, can benefit without resorting to unspoken rules to reap profits. In this regard, anti-corruption is intended not only to destroy the old, but also to establish something new.

Posted in: Observer

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