Reports of Long’s arrest emerged in Chinese media on Thursday. He is suspected of accepting bribes.
Long had been chairman of Hunan TV, but abruptly resigned in October. He cited work-related issues. It is understood that he has been watched and questioned since then.
As chairman in 2015, Long was instrumental in the deal between the enterprising regional media group and Lionsgate that runs until the end of 2018. The deal, signed in Changsha, provides Lionsgate with some $375 million of slate funding and covers distribution of Lionsgate films through Hunan subsidiary TIK Films, as well as other initiatives such as co-development and training.
There is no current suggestion that the Lionsgate relationship is the Chinese authorities’ object of interest. However, as Hunan TV chairman, Long is credited as executive producer on several Lionsgate movies, including “La La Land,” “Deepwater Horizon,” and “Power Rangers.”
Since Xi Jinping became the president of China in 2012, several other big names in the Hunan media group have been removed from office. Some have been arrested or sent to jail. They include Luo Yi, former deputy director of Hunan Broadcasting System, in 2016. Luo was said to have been a keen supporter of former China president Jiang Zemin and produced a series of stories favoring the Jiang. Changsha is also the stronghold of Mao Zedong, modern China’s revolutionary founder and first leader.