On September 20th, 2018 China’s film and TV regulator, NATR, published a discussion draft of the Provisions on Administration of Import and Broadcasting of Overseas Audio-Visual Programs. The provisions apply to “overseas” films, TV programs, animation and documentaries. “NATR” is the National Administration of TV and Radio, the result of a recent restructuring of SAPPRFT, the State Administration of Print Publication Radio Film and TV.

If implemented in their present form, the provisions will seriously impact the streaming and broadcasting of foreign motion picture and TV content. These provisions are part of a process of increasing regulation of foreign content that began in 2014. One of the stated objects of this process is to support the domestic Chinese entertainment industry and to improve domestic program standards. One of the effects of the process will be to reduce foreign access to the Chinese market.

For streaming:

  • NATR will be required to publish and maintain a catalogue of overseas programs approved for streaming in China. Streaming of overseas programs not listed in the catalogue will be prohibited. This would be an entirely new development.
  • Each platform will be required to limit overseas programs to 30% of its programming in any one “category.” This would be in addition to the general 30% limit on overseas programs introduced in 2014.

For broadcasting:

  • Each TV broadcaster will be required to limit overseas content to 30% of the broadcaster’s total daily broadcast time in the applicable “categories.” This too would be an entirely new development.
  • Primetime broadcast of overseas programs of any kind will be prohibited without NATR approval. This would replace the 2016 regulations that already restrict primetime broadcast of foreign formats to two per broadcaster.

The big issues right now are how to draw the line between foreign and domestic content and how best to structure IPR in Sino-foreign film & TV deals.

We will keep you posted as developments occur.