With so much foreign attention focused on the possibilities for drama in China it is easy at times to overlook the nation’s thirst for foreign-produced or foreign-formatted factual content. The recent announcement of BBC Worldwide’s deal with CCTV is a timely reminder that factual content can succeed in an environment where reality and elimination formats are considered undesirable television viewing by the authorities. When I ran all this past Kristian Kender, a Beijing-based media consultant with whom we regularly work, he agreed that there were many openings for factual content in China. According to Kristian, “with the success of CCTV-9 there do exist quite a lot of opportunities for international factual producers in China. What they need to bring to the table is experience, some funding and an international broadcaster.”

So, it is great to see that a bunch of factual producers will be touring Beijing and Chengdu November 12 through 18 this year as part of the “Enterprise Asia Screen Industry Delegation.”  The event is already attracting media analysis; for example Screen Hub’s recent article “Chinese Factual: initial fears before a long haul” [link no longer exists].

We have devoted more than a few posts to legal issues around feature films produced with Chinese partners or imported into China from abroad , with the following being just some of them:

Though many of these issues we discussed in the posts above apply to all types of content, television tends to present its own challenges for foreigner producers and distributors. In the face of these challenges, preventative or protective measures include
  • Obtaining some level of protection for a series format by employing a non-disclosure agreement that is appropriate for the Chinese context
  • Filing for registration of program titles as trademarks in China
  • Taking practical steps to increase the likelihood of receiving payment from Chinese agents
  • Doing some due diligence on buying agents to ensure that they have the necessary capacity and authority

I will be writing more about these issues in the context of China factual content when this group hits town.