Entertainment News

Chinese government announces cap on actors’ salaries following tax evasion allegations

The development comes weeks after a row over superstar Fan Bingbing’s contracts.

The Chinese government has decided to cap the salaries of actors to rein in the culture of “money worship” in the film industry, it announced on Wednesday. Stars’ salaries cannot exceed 40% of the total production costs, while lead actors cannot be paid more than 70% of the total cast’s pay, according to news agency Xinhua. The rules apply to movies as well as television and digital shows.

The development comes weeks after China announced on June 3 that it would launch a tax evasion investigation into the film industry, following a controversy involving superstar Fan Bingbing. The announcement was made by five government agencies, including the propaganda department, ministry of culture and tourism and radio, TV and film regulators.

The notice does not specify the reason for the crackdown, but says it needs to deal with “sky-high pay” for actors, “yin and yang contracts” and “tax evasion and other issues”,” said the BBC. Yin and yang contracts refers to the alleged practice of film stars signing multiple contracts for a project and declaring the one of lowest value to authorities.

These problems have “damaged the health of the film and TV industry”, and led to “money worship”, “the youth blindly chasing celebrities” and “distorted social values”, the notice said, but did not give details on how the pay cap would be implemented.

The government additionally said that film productions should prioritise benefits to society instead of considering box office returns, ratings and online views alone.

In May, television presenter Cui Yongyuan posted documents on social media alleging that Fan, one of the highest paid actors in China, had signed two contracts for the same production – one for $1.56m and another for $7.8m. Cui indicated that stars commonly sign such yin-yang contracts. Fan’s representatives denied the allegations and reportedly threatened to sue Cui.

The government’s move is also being seen as an extension of the censorship to which the country’s online platforms and films are often subjected.

“In other film industries – for example, in Hollywood and Bollywood – the government does not get involved with how much actors are paid,” the BBC said. “But in China, the government tends to have more oversight over many industries, even if they are in the private sector.”

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People who fall through the gaps in road safety campaigns

Helmet and road safety campaigns might have been neglecting a sizeable chunk of the public at risk.

City police, across the country, have been running a long-drawn campaign on helmet safety. In a recent initiative by the Bengaluru Police, a cop dressed-up as ‘Lord Ganesha’ offered helmets and roses to two-wheeler riders. Earlier this year, a 12ft high and 9ft wide helmet was installed in Kota as a memorial to the victims of road accidents. As for the social media leg of the campaign, the Mumbai Police made a pop-culture reference to drive the message of road safety through their Twitter handle.

But, just for the sake of conversation, how much safety do helmets provide anyway?

Lack of physical protections put two-wheeler riders at high risk on the road. According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes. Nearly half of those dying on the world’s roads are ‘vulnerable road users’ – pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. According to the Indian transport ministry, about 28 two-wheeler riders died daily on Indian roads in 2016 for not wearing helmets.

The WHO states that wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death by almost 40% and the risk of severe injury by over 70%. The components of a helmet are designed to reduce impact of a force collision to the head. A rigid outer shell distributes the impact over a large surface area, while the soft lining absorbs the impact.

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Pillion rider safety has always been second in priority. While several state governments are making helmets for pillion riders mandatory, the lack of awareness about its importance runs deep. In Mumbai itself, only 1% of the 20 lakh pillion riders wear helmets. There seems to be this perception that while two-wheeler riders are safer wearing a helmet, their passengers don’t necessarily need one. Statistics prove otherwise. For instance, in Hyderabad, the Cyberabad traffic police reported that 1 of every 3 two-wheeler deaths was that of a pillion rider. DGP Chander, Goa, stressed that 71% of fatalities in road accidents in 2017 were of two-wheeler rider and pillion riders of which 66% deaths were due to head injury.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Reliance General Insurance and not by the Scroll editorial team.