China to Abolish Regulatory Body, Bring Media Under Closer Government Control

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Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Republic of Korea's National Security Advisor Chung Eui-Yong (not pictured) and South Korean Ambassador to China Noh Young-min (not pictured) at the Great Hall of The People on March 12, 2018 in Beijing, China.

In a sweeping shake-up of central government structure, China plans to eliminate the regulatory body that oversees the country's media and entertainment industries and replace it with a new administration under closer control of the ruling Communist Party.

The proposed changes were unveiled Tuesday in a set of documents presented to China's National People’s Congress for deliberation later this week.

Under the proposal, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) will be eliminated. It will be replaced by a new regulatory body that operates at the State Council, or cabinet, level. 

"The proposed administration directly under the State Council will be responsible for drafting policies and measures for radio and television management and their implementation, coordinating development of broadcasting undertakings and industries, promoting institutional reform in the sectors, importing radio and television programs, and facilitating the sectors to go global," said China's state news agency Xinhua.

The changes are just one part of an ambitious government revamp intended to eliminate bureaucracy while boosting the centrality of President Xi Jinping and party leadership to all aspects of policymaking. Other changes include the merger of the country’s banking and insurance regulators and establishment of special agencies to oversee immigration and military veteran affairs. All told, the number of ministries under China’s cabinet will be reduced from 34 to 26. On Sunday, presidential term limits were removed from China's constitution, opening the door for Xi to remain in office indefinitely.

SAPPRFT in its current form was established by the merger of two government regulators in March 2013 — the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) and the General Administration of Press and Publication. SAPPRFT controls China's state-owned media enterprises, such as China Central Television and China Film Group, while also shouldering the responsibility for the censorship of all media so that it doesn't offend the sensibilities of the central government.

This article was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.