HONG Kong and Macau cinema investors will be allowed to build wholly-owned cinemas on the Chinese mainland starting on February 20.
Hong Kong and Macau investors are now limited to a 75 percent stake in their joint ventures with local partners on the mainland, according to regulations issued in 2003.
Those regulations, published by the State Administration of Radio Film and Television, allowed foreign investors ownership of up to 75 percent in joint-ventures in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Nanjing, Chengdu and Wuhan.
The same concession also applies to Hong Kong and Macau investors under the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement.
However, SARFT relaxed the regulations to allow Hong Kong and Macau investors to develop wholly-owned cinemas this year.
It also said that Chinese mainland investors must own at least 51 percent or "play a leading role" in their joint-ventures with foreign partners.
A SARFT spokesman would not give a timetable for when foreign investors might receive the same treatment as those from Hong Kong and Macau. But he stressed the agency is pursuing a step-by-step process toward liberalization of the industry.
Warner Brothers International Cinema, the first foreign cinema operator on the Chinese mainland, said it has yet to receive information from the authorities on the changes.
"We are aware of the new regulations and look forward to receiving the definition of 'leading role'," WBIC said in an e-mail to Shanghai Daily.
WBIC holds a 51 percent stake in Nanjing's Shangying Warner Cinemas. It opened its first mainland cinema complex in Shanghai four years ago -- Paradise Warner Cinema City, a joint venture with the Shanghai Film Group.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)