Last week FRAPA met delegates of SARFT; the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT), formerly known as the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT). Chinese producers and broadcasters were part of the Chinese delegation.
FRAPA stressed that freedom of speech and international trade are the most important piers on which the international format industry has been built over the years and Chinese producers were offered assistance in order to create a fair market and a healthy business environment. FRAPA offered SARFT the opportunity to enhance the originality and creativity of the Chinese Media industry and invited them to join the format industry as a fair and equal player.
The background to the meeting is that in June 2016 China announced an amendment to the regulation of imported foreign formats. According to the new rules, each satellite channel may broadcast a maximum of two foreign format adaptations per year with only one newly imported. The new format can not be scheduled in prime time in year one.
The changes have also defined the rules for co-development in unprecedented detail, insisting that the Chinese entity must obtain the full IP rights of any co-developed ideas. In the meantime, SARFT has put in force various measures to encourage originality, such as providing financial support and presenting government awards to the creator/broadcaster of the original format.
Between 2010 and 2015, China found herself assimilated into the global format business as a more fair and respectful partner and a greater level of format cooperation has been achieved during this period. This appears to have helped improve the level of Chinese production and has facilitated the creative exchange between foreign countries and China.
It feels that the new rules of June 2016 will undermine this progress.
FRAPA has received contact from members expressing their concerns that some Chinese production partners feel unable to pay agreed licence fees under the new rules. There are also claims of confusion over the rights holders of the original idea.
FRAPA has urged SARFT to govern the Chinese industry with the global formats market in mind by protecting original IP rights regardless of its Chinese or Western origin and discouraging any form of copying. At FRAPA we encourage communication and cooperation by enforcing fair trade terms; i.e. equally share the IP rights of co-development deals.