Mipcom Preview 2012

China’s battle these days is tracking the content to feed its growing auds and muscular technological reach. The challenge remains staying within censorship rules and meeting requirements to screen as much domestic product as possible.

Exports are also a growing market and China will bring drama series and docus to this year’s Mipcom, while production companies are seeing if they can make increased investment in toons pay off.

Cheng Chunli, general marketing director of China Intl. Television Corp., says CITC will bring 12 major productions to Mipcom this year, as well as a selection of dramas and docus.

“Mipcom is always a very important event in TV industry because it gathers all the TV people from all over the world,” Cheng says.

Productions with a for-sale sign include ancient historical dramas such as “The Legend of Chu and Han” (“Chu Han Chuanqi”), which is based on the events in the late Qin Dynasty and rivalry between the Chu and the Han, which led to the founding of the Han Dynasty.

They will also include the imperial palace dramas “A Women of the Tang Dynasty,” as well as contemporary urban dramas such as “My Economic Boyfriend.”

Docs include “China on the Tongue,” which explores Chinese foodie habits, and “Super Infrastructure.”

“We have especially prepared dedicated posters for all those titles, and trailers in English for the foreign customers,” says Cheng, in explaining how to best market the Chinese fare.

The Chinese delegation will include a big contingent from state broadcaster China Central Television’s (CCTV) education and science channels, as well as documentary and TV dramas channels. They will be researching and hoping to buy top-quality content to show on the national broadcaster.

Cheng believes there were too many TV programs produced in the past year, more than the demand from the market and channels around the globe. He expects that to settle down, though.

Among the challenges for Chinese TV since the last Mipcom were the decision in January by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television to cut “excessive entertainment” and skeins of “low taste” on satellite TV.

SARFT ordered satcasters in late October to cut back on “light” entertainment skeins, including dating and talent shows, as well as programs featuring “emotional stories” in favor of fare that “promote traditional virtues and socialist core values.”

As a result of the order, SARFT calculates that the number of entertainment shows aired in primetime each week has dropped from 126 to 38, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Among the big-name casualties were the hugely popular “Super Girl” talent show, which censors said was “too long.” Dating show Jiangsu Satellite’s “If You Are the One” survived the ax.

“The rules limiting light entertainment changed the environment, and in the long term, will bring diversified entertainment programs. However, it did have a big impact on TV stations’ revenues from advertising,” says Cheng.

Media Asia is aiming to sell across the board at Mipcom, including library movie titles for all new media, TV, says Ricky Tse, head of distribution and sales at Media Asia.

Among the titles execs will bring to the confab are Pang Ho-cheung’s “Love in the Buff,” Soi Cheang’s “Motorway” and Johnnie To’s “Romancing in Thin Air.”

The company is looking at selling to the TV market outside China for the moment, largely because of difficulties with ensuring revenues.

“The TV market in China is still limited. It’s not like other Asian countries with a clear window of pay TV and free TV. People in China don’t have much concept to pay for watching TV. It takes time to develop the regional and national network,” says Tse.

He also hopes to see more development of online legal TV streaming, as illegal streaming is a factor hindering the development of TV markets.

Technology has become the driver of the TV and film biz, which is helping to improve the quality of productions and push the market to keep growing in China.

By the end of 2011, there were 513 million Internet users in China, covering 38% of the country. The average webizen spends about 160 minutes every day online, which has big repercussions for the content market. There were over 325 million people using video websites, and the area is growing.

Chinese animation is also becoming more and more popular. While the state-sponsored sector has tended to lead, following a major infusion of grant aid from the government, private animation shingles are starting to make an impression.

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