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Foreign TV shows in China under the scanner

2015-03-12 09:57 China Daily Web Editor: Si Huan
A poster for HBO's popular TV serial Game of Thrones. (Photo/China Daily)

A poster for HBO's popular TV serial Game of Thrones. (Photo/China Daily)

As foreign TV shows on Chinese websites are reviewed for regulatory approval, experts say local industry stands to gain from the changing scenario.

China's new online video rules have resulted in several US TV serials being pulled out of the country's major streaming sites.

Agent Carter, Empire and Shameless are among such shows that have been removed from sites such as Sohu.com and Letv.com. The newly licensed serials being shown on the sites are Girls and Veep, both HBO productions that premiered in the US in 2012, and are available for daily viewing on Chinese site Tencent Video now.

Last year, Tencent Video announced a deal with HBO to exclusively stream about 10 of the networks' productions this year onward, including brand-new seasons of Game of Thrones and True Detective, two series that are popular with Chinese audiences.

According to the latest regulations, new seasons likely to debut this year will require prior approval of the sector's top regulator-the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television. The contents of foreign series would need to be submitted to the administration along with Chinese subtitles for clearance.

Trade analysts expect the scenario will delay the run-time of TV series in China. The shows are not likely to reach local viewers until six months after they are screened in the United States.

Tencent Video executives declined to comment when asked by China Daily about foreign series lineup for the year.

Seasons that have run into 2015 are required to get their information registered with the administration before March 31, indicating an uncertain future for many foreign shows in the coming months. China's video sites will have to limit foreign TV shows to 30 percent of overall content uploaded on their sites.

The number of foreign TV series expected to be licensed will definitely see a drop in the future, says Feng Jun, senior analyst with entertainment industry consultancy EntGroup. Feng says that the scenes featuring "certain levels of violence and sex will surely be cut during official examination".

Some Chinese fans worry that TV serials featuring supernatural themes such as American Horror Story, for example, will fail to reappear on Chinese websites.

In the past few years, Chinese companies have been streaming content that couldn't be shown on TV, thanks to a less strict streaming system.

Cai Fuchao, director general of the state administration, was quoted by Beijing Youth Daily in December saying that content offline and online should now follow the same standards.

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