China Limits Overseas TV Series to Boost Domestic Industry

China told its television broadcasters to limit the number of imported series they show, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said in a circular posted on its website.

The new rules bar all foreign TV series from the prime-time hours of 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and restricts overseas-made shows to no more than 25 percent of total programming time each day, the regulator said yesterday. No import can exceed 50 episodes, according to the agency.

President Hu Jintao wrote in an article published on Jan. 1 in the Communist Party’s Qiushi magazine that the West is using cultural means to divide China and that the country needs to be alert to this threat. Greater development of China’s media and cultural industries was set as a national target in the government’s 12th five-year plan that covers the period from 2011 through 2015.

“We’ve been pushing forward the development of the domestic industry,” said Ma Runsheng, general manager of China International Television Corp.’s Program Exchange Center. “It’s only natural that some rules are published to ensure that goal.”

High-definition shows should be given preference for import to improve the quality of TV programming, SARFT said. Trailers introducing foreign series must be limited to less than three minutes, according to the regulator.

The agency also urged provincial television regulatory agencies to strengthen efforts to crack down on violators of this policy.

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