TV and film companies from beyond the Great Wall will shortly be free to invest in or set-up operations in mainland China, Zhu Hong of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television told the Financial Times last weekend.

The move is one of a raft of watershed reforms intended to inject new vigour into the nation's semi-supine mainly state-owned media industry.

Until now media organisations ranging from newspapers to television stations have been controlled by the state and its ruling Communist party. Henceforth, "strong and influential" foreign companies will be free to hold minority stakes in Chinese production companies. The policy change is a "major liberalisation", claimed Zhu.

"In the past we only allowed foreign and domestic companies to work together on films and television programmes. Now we have . . . issued clear permission for overseas and domestic companies jointly to create companies to make films and television programmes.

The government hopes the result will be a substantial increase in private sector involvement in the nation's TV business, thereby raising both quality and quantity of content produced for the local market.

Indigenous private companies together with foreign firms will also be allowed to develop pay-TV channels -- a move aimed at enticing outside investment to fund the Peoples Republic's ambitious plans to grow subscription and digital TV services.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff