The New Regulations on Broadcasting Foreign Contents in China

On the month of September 2018, China’s National Administration of TV and Radio “NATR” published a discussion draft of the Provisions on Administration of Import and Broadcasting of Overseas Audio-Visual Programs. The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT) is an executive branch under the State Council of the People’s Republic of China directly controls the content of all radio, television, satellite, and Internet broadcasts in China (including, where it is able, foreign satellite broadcasts). SAPPRFT was itself formed from a merger of regulatory bodies in March 2013. The government combined the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) with the General Administration of Press and Publication. The merger is sufficiently recent that many people in the entertainment industry still refer to SAPPRFT as SARFT.

The draft law comes as regulators seek greater control over all form of content both in print and online. The main objective of this entire draft is to enhance the standard of the Chinese domestic programs along with the improvement of the Chinese entertainment sector. The draft regulations will limit foreign content to 30% of daily airtime on all channels, and banish it completely from evening prime time, defined as 7-10 p.m. The move is the Communist Party of China (CPC) efforts to assert greater control over the film and media industries. The stated objective is to exclude content that presents as violence, terrorism, incitement to crime, and a threat to social stability and national sentiment.

New Rules for Foreign Content Streaming

  • It is mandatory for NATR to maintain a pre-approved catalog of foreign programs and the ones that are not listed will not be allowed to broadcast in China.
  • Each platform will be required to limit overseas programs to 30% of its programming in any one “category.”

New Rules for Foreign Content 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.”
  • Primetime broadcast of overseas programs of any kind will be prohibited without NATR approval.

SARFT has signed agreements of radio, film and television cooperation and of news exchange with over sixty countries, and has participated in activities organized by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (in the name of Radio and Television of the People’s Republic of China, RTPRC for short), the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development and other international organizations.

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