China's New Crackdown On Formats and Drama

CHINESE regulators have issued a decree that will severely limit foreign formats and cut back on entertainment and drama imports coming into the territory.

China is expected to be the biggest pay TV market by the end of 2018, with 313 million households, but access to that market is clearly not a sure thing. Beginning in 2014, regulator SAPPRFT will allow satellite broadcasters to acquire rights to only one foreign format and that one show will be restricted to airing outside of primetime. In addition, only one musical talent show will be approved by the SAPPRFT each quarter.

Deadline’s Nancy Tartaglione reports that the new regs, as part of a campaign to increase “morality building” programming, also call for a 7.5-hour daily blackout of broadcasting serials and entertainment programmes.  That programming block will be filled with news and educational programming.

The fuss about formats and entertainment programming is not new but it sends seriously mixed signals to the international media community as to what China wants and comes on the heels of a massive China presence at the recent global content market MIPCOM.  A raft of Chinese companies also recently descended on Hollywood in what Tartaglione called a “charm offensive” to persuade LA based film and TV producers they were ready to do business.