China to limit foreign TV shows
Beijing - China's media regulator has issued new rules banning foreign
television shows from being shown at primetime as the country tries to
encourage domestic programming, state media reported on Tuesday.
Foreign television series must be capped at a total of 50 episodes and the
running time for an imported series must not exceed 25% of the total time a
given channel dedicates to broadcasting such shows, the official China Daily
Most foreign television series shown on Chinese channels are from Hong Kong,
Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and India.
US-made shows are highly popular, but mostly watched online or via pirated
DVDs which are widely and cheaply available on the streets.
According to the announcement by the State Administration of Radio, Film and
Television, Chinese stations are prohibited from airing foreign series between 19:00
and 22:00, and must not "intensively" broadcast shows from just one
Chinese networks are forbidden too from airing unapproved shows produced by
companies outside of China and foreign series that contain violent or vulgar
material, the rules state.
"Regulatory bodies around the country must increase their supervision
over foreign television shows broadcast on television stations at all levels,
and increase fines levied for those who break the rules," it said.
The China Daily said the regulations were "to protect domestic cultural
products and ... help create a favourable environment for TV shows made by
companies on the Chinese mainland".
China periodically tries reining in its state-run television channels, which
increasingly have to rely on attracting advertisers and therefore viewers as
government subsidies are reduced.
In 2002, Beijing pulled the plug on the Taiwan-made soap opera Meteor
Garden, fearing that the decadent lifestyle portrayed by boy
band "F4" would corrupt young Chinese minds. China described the
series as "electronic heroin".