China Misses WTO Deadline on Media Restriction

US trade officials and industry bodies expressed disappointment at China’s failure to relax controls on foreign media imports by the WTO’s March 19 deadline. From the Los Angeles Times:

The “U.S. government is disappointed that China has not yet fully complied with the WTO ruling in this case, a lack of compliance which China has acknowledged,” Nkenge Harmon, a U.S. trade representative spokeswoman, said Tuesday. “The U.S. government has communicated its concerns to China, and is working to ensure that China promptly brings its measures into full compliance.”

The restrictions have presented particular challenges for U.S. film studios. Under the tight guidelines, China allows only about 20 foreign films into its theaters each year. The Motion Picture Assn. of America blames the quota for helping fuel piracy of Hollywood films. By one estimate, the country’s bootleg DVD industry generated $6 billion last year. By comparison, China’s box office receipts totaled $1.5 billion in 2010 …

The U.S brought the complaint to the world trade body in 2007. The WTO ruled in 2009 that China had broken international trade rules by restricting imports of foreign movies and other media, a decision celebrated as a major victory by the U.S. entertainment industry. Although that ruling did not address the quota issue, it was hoped that a widening of the distribution system would lead to greater market access for U.S. firms. Currently, only China Film Group and Huaxia Film Distribution Co., both government-controlled, import foreign films into China.

March 22, 2011 8:22 PM
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