China curbs remakes of foreign shows

Singer Jay Chou as a judge on The Voice Of China, which is licensed from Dutch producer Talpa Media.
Singer Jay Chou as a judge on The Voice Of China, which is licensed from Dutch producer Talpa Media.PHOTO: MEDIACORP

BEIJING • China's media regulator imposed new restrictions on local versions of foreign television shows, the latest in a government push to limit Western cultural influence and promote home- grown entertainment.

Starting on July 1, Chinese satellite channels may broadcast only two "foreign-inspired" shows during the primetime hours of 7.30pm to 10.30pm and may introduce only one such show a year, said a statement released on Sunday by the regulator.

The move is aimed at stemming the rising popularity of local versions of foreign shows, such as The Voice Of China, licensed from Dutch producer Talpa Media, and Running Man, a localised version of the popular South Korean variety show.

In an interview with the state-run People's Daily published on Sunday, the regulator's deputy director said that China is in an ideological battle with the West and that regulations could be expected for documentaries, variety shows and animated series.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television introduced restrictions on foreign formats in 2013, but television networks skirted the rules by calling themselves "codevelopers" of such shows. The new regulations now define all co-developed programmes as foreign.

The regulator criticised what it called an over-reliance on foreign formats and said it hopes to boost "innovative" programmes with "Chinese characteristics" and "socialist core values".

That language echoes policy priorities that President Xi Jinping laid out late last year to promote Chinese culture and soft power, and the move fits a broader pattern under him to further tighten control over the Internet, arts and culture.

The announcement also said that foreign-inspired television shows will need approval from the provincial authorities for broadcast.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2016, with the headline 'China curbs remakes of foreign shows'. Print Edition | Subscribe