Yu Meihong, audio-visual industry The mainland audio and video retail market is continuing its sharp decline of recent years because of rampant piracy, with sales in the sector estimated to be down more than 40 per cent last year to less than three billion yuan. In the DVD industry alone, the piracy rate at the end of last year was a staggering 93 per cent, and knock-offs cost the film industry an estimated US$2.69 billion for the year, according to a survey by the Motion Picture Association. Industry insiders say they can survive, if they get support from authorities. Yu Meihong, general manager of PAC (Bo En Kai) Music and Video Chain Stores, said a combination of legal, economic and administrative measures had helped tackle counterfeiting in the industry. Ms Yu said Beijing was leading the charge in developing legitimate AV shops through its post offices. She said her company, which is partly government-funded, had set up 45 stores in Guangdong, with sales volume of 40 million yuan last year. And to stay ahead of pack, she planned to set up other 10 outlets this year and increase sales by 10 million yuan. She said an improved approval process for films and TV dramas also could help legitimate audio and video products compete.'In the past, videos of films could only be launched six months after the films were released in cinemas. That means consumers would have to buy a pirate VCD if they didn't want to pay for expensive movie tickets,' Ms Yu said. 'Now we can launch them the same day.'She said the industry needed specific rules on online content to tackle the new trend of online piracy. 'Net piracy has had a devastating impact on the business and China does not have enough penalties against this growing trend,' Ms Yu said. 'Without backup from official groups, China will have the highest rate of music and film piracy and our business will quickly be over.'