Industry group seeks to ease limits on TV content

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 September, 2011, 12:00am


Policy regulators of the mainland's television sector should 'step back a little' and give broadcasters more room to decide on programme content, an industry representative said.

'If China can loosen some of the restrictions on the industry, it will not only benefit consumers but also make the life of government less complex,' said Simon Twiston Davies, chief executive of the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa).

The licensing of content for cable-TV systems on the mainland was the biggest concern currently, he said. 'In China, cable infrastructure is quite extensive and all content must be approved by the State Administration of Radio Film and Television. And Sarft continues to be restrictive about content, especially concerning international programmes,' he said.

More than 180 million mainland households are connected to the national cable network, representing half of all households with televisions. Even so, opportunities for growth remained strong, 'given the continued [economic] growth and the increasing sophistication of the Chinese consumer, who is becoming technically more adept and also more demanding in the choice of content', Twiston Davies said.

He said he had seen a greater willingness from the authorities to acknowledge intellectual property rights in the past few years.

This was a welcome development, as the internet had given free access to a wide range of media content.

'The internet is a bit of a 'Wild West' at the moment, and our worry is that people are getting into a habit of refusing to pay for everything. But the Chinese government is beginning to take note, and take action occasionally to shut down sites that distribute high-value content,' Twiston Davies said, adding that content would remain very important in the digital age.

'Consumers nowadays have a much wider choice in terms of platforms... but they don't care about distribution or about bandwidth. What they care about is content.'