Chinese video sites agree to cap stars' pay

BEIJING • It is time to press the pause button. China's three largest video sites, iQiyi, Youku and Tencent Video, have pledged to cap actors' pay as the authorities ramp up a tax-evasion probe into the country's US$8.6-billion (S$11.8billion) film industry.

Their pledge, made over the weekend, comes months after accusations surfaced that some of the top actors were signing two contracts - one setting out agreed payment terms and a second with a lower figure for tax reporting.

"We call on all production companies and streaming platforms to work together to create a healthy environment for the movie and TV industry, and boost its prosperous development," said iQiyi, Alibaba-backed Youku, Tencent's video-streaming service and six production firms in a statement.

The nine companies have agreed to cap actors' pay at 40 per cent of total production cost, with leading actors' pay not taking more than 70 per cent of cost on all pay cheques.

These levels are in line with what the government has suggested in the past.

Like Netflix, iQiyi, Youku and Tencent Video are increasingly making their own movies and TV series.

The Capital Radio & TV Programme Producers Association, in a statement on Sunday, vowed to blacklist anyone who evades tax, breaks a contract or signs a deal that seeks to evade taxes.

According to the Forbes China Celebrity List for last year, the country's top-earning celebrity was actress Fan Bingbing, who took home US$43.6 million.

No Chinese actor or actress has been convicted of tax fraud under the latest investigation, though rumours have swirled that Fan has been banned from acting for three years amid allegations of tax evasion.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2018, with the headline 'Chinese video sites agree to cap stars' pay'. Print Edition | Subscribe