Last week was an awesome experience. I was assigned a new project by one of my supervising attorneys and got to join in on a conference call at the end of the week to report our findings. Once again--in true China fashion--we have been tasked with brushing up on something slightly outside of our normal corporate practice area. I have been researching the Chinese entertainment industry. Specifically, I've been looking into how television broadcast rights for foreign television programming are distributed in China.
As you can probably imagine, it involves a lengthy approval procedure (to ensure that the imported programming contains "healthy" content). Once you've cleared that hurdle, you have to find a station or onlin television provider who is willing to buy the rights. In legal parlance, these deals are called "content acquisition agreements" or "content distribution agreements." For a long time, China has put a bottleneck on how much foreign-produced television content can be aired. Foreign-produced content cannot exceed 25% of any station's lineup and cannot be broadcast during primetime. Just last year, the government closed a loophole that allowed online streaming video service providers (Netflix and Hulu's Chinese equivelents) to get around these limitations. As it stands now, any online streaming video service provider must limit their foreign content to 30% of their total library.
These regulations, both the old and the new, add another wrinkle to the difficult task of finding a viable business partner. Thus, while there are a lot of media companies clammoring to enter the China market, only a select few have managed break through.
My hope is that our work can help put clients in touch with suitable business partners. If that happens, more foreign media will be accessable in China (although apprently they are already obsessed with the Big Bang Theory, House of Cards, and Game of Thrones).
In the modern world, I believe a grater exchange of media leads to a greater understanding of other cultures. I hope we can make that happen here.