BBC develops Sino relationships

Corp. airs second Chinese co-production

HONG KONG — The BBC will this month begin airing “Beijing: Biography of an Imperial Capital,” the second factual skein it has co-produced with a Chinese broadcaster.

“Biography” will air as part of a “China: Stories from a Middle Kingdom” season that will show on the specialty BBC Knowledge net. Season is intended to mark the run up to Beijing Olympic Games and also flash the BBC’s Chinese credentials.

Season is a mix of series from the U.K. that receive Asian premieres, docus that have preemed as shorts on the BBC World News channel and first run shows. Included also is “Full Circle With Michael Palin,” “Paul Merton in China,” “Chinese School” and “Secrets of the Forbidden City.”

Like some of the Beeb’s biggest showcase material, “Biography” uses mix of high-definition video and CGI reconstructions. It was made over an 18 month period as a co-venture between the BBC and Beijing Television, with Singapore’s The Right Angle as producer. It runs as a three-parter for the BBC and in 12 episodes for Beijing TV.

“This season of programming dedicated to celebrating Chinese history marks a significant milestone for our channels business in the (Asia) region and since the launch of BBC Knowledge one year ago,” Christine Leo-McKerrow, BBC Worldwide Channels senior VP and GM, said.

The BBC last month began screenings in the U.K. and elsewhere of “Wild China,” its first Chinese co-production. The natural history series was a tie up between the BBC’s Natural History Unit and China Television Media, a production arm of Chinese pubcaster China Central Television. Series is called “Beautiful China” by CCTV.

In Asia, the Blighty pubcaster now operates five channels — BBC World News, BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Knowledge and for pre-schoolers Cbeebies — with carriage deals varying in each territory.

Like most other foreign broadcasters, the BBC does not have “landing rights” in China. Its World News net can only be viewed in China’s top hotels and foreigner compounds and its website is blocked by country’s Internet regulators, often referred to as “the Great Firewall of China.”

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