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21 Jun, 2016

China puts squeeze on imported TV shows and remakes

Beijing, (China Daily), June 20, 2016 – China’s media regulator has issued a directive limiting imported TV shows and remakes, aiming to promote domestic originality. Insiders have called for more training of producers.

With authorized remakes of foreign TV reality shows gaining popularity in China, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television ordered that all television stations must stop airing unapproved programs that are based on overseas formats starting July 1.

The licensing of TV programs, concepts and branding created overseas-mostly shows from Europe and South Korea-has been a growing trend in China since 2012.

Adapted versions of foreign shows, such as the South Korean Running Man and The Voice of China, imported from the Netherlands, have gained massive audiences as well as advertising revenues, thus inspiring more Chinese television groups to buy foreign material.

Citing the importance of promoting “Chinese cultural characteristics”, the administration said in a statement published on Saturday that it will require all TV groups to submit imported shows for content review two months before broadcast. Only those that are approved can be aired on national channels.

Under the regulation, a satellite channel can air no more than two imported or foreign-adapted TV reality series during prime time between 7:30 pm and 10:30 pm annually.

“The reliance on imported program formats has been squeezing out the creative incentive of domestic producers and broadcasters,” the statement said. “Audiences are craving more Chinese original programs that are fun to watch and feature healthy tastes.”

Gao Changli, director of the administration’s publicity department, confirmed on Sunday that the directive was sent to all TV groups. Gao declined to comment about enforcement.

Because of a lack of production expertise in China, buying fully developed programs and formats from overseas is preferable for executives over taking risks on domestic originals, said Hu Zhifeng, a professor of television and broadcasting studies at Communication University of China.

“Local producers and broadcasters have to consciously learn from foreign crews to adapt and reproduce overseas works,” he said. “They should be better trained to get more know-how to create program formats with independent intellectual property rights.”