China institutes new rules on int’l formats

China's satellite channels now need to secure local regulator approval prior to broadcasting imported programs, and channels can air only two primetime programs based on foreign formats each year. (Pictured: The Voice of China)
June 20, 2016

China’s television regulator has imposed new limitations on international format adaptations that may affect the future of such programs as The Voice of China (pictured).

In its most recent bid to bolster local production, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) now requires that satellite channels secure local regulator approval prior to broadcasting imported programs.

In addition, channels can now broadcast only two primetime programs based on foreign formats each year. Further, only one program being shown in China for the first time may be broadcast per year, and not in primetime slots.

Channels that air international adaptations without the necessary approval will be banned from broadcasting foreign-adapted programs for one year.

The latest rules – first reported in the state-run – will affect such shows as The Voice of China, which is based on Talpa’s international hit format.

Elsewhere, Endemol Shine China and Shenzhen Satellite Television teamed up in March to bring thriller format Hunted - originally produced by Endemol Shine UK for Channel 4 – to China.

“Certain broadcasters are still too dependent on foreign programming methods, and the proportion of original programs is comparatively small, high quality is rare, the programs have a small influence…and they have restricted the healthy development of broadcast programming,” reads a statement from SAPPRFT.

The regulator further noted that broadcasters should “earnestly implement” the ideology outlined in Chinese president Xi Jinping’s recent call to form a culture of self-improvement that “vigorously pushes” for independent, innovative TV programs and the development of independent IP rights that inform Socialist literature and art.

SAPPRFT is known to place restrictions on television production, and has in the past instituted various quotas on international formats and domestic content airing in prime-time.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.