June 02, 2011
|China's dramas all show and no go|
|Ho Ai Li
The Straits Times
Publication Date : 25-10-2010
Overseas sales of shows lag behind those of South Korea and US as its dramas lack quality and have tired themes
China may make the most hours of television dramas worldwide, with an average of 35 episodes a day, but its drama series are hardly helping the growing global power conquer the world.
Overseas sales have gone up by a third to 133 million yuan (S$26 million) from 2005 to last year, but Chinese serials still lag in marketability behind not only those of the United States, but also those of South Korea.
Last year, the country exported only about US$20 million (S$26 million) worth of TV dramas; in contrast, South Korea's overseas sales already hit US$71.5 million in 2004.
Eager to raise its global influence, Beijing outlined ambitious plans to develop its culture industry at a top-level policy meeting earlier this month.
But a lack of originality has hindered China's efforts to use this vehicle in projecting its soft power abroad, said observers.
For example, this year saw new TV adaptations of classics like Dream Of The Red Chamber and Romance Of The Three Kingdoms, both of which drew mixed reviews.
"This shows the lack of materials and the scarcity of good scripts. That's why they keep rehashing the classics," said media expert Ming Anxiang of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
TV stations fall back on the classics as these well-loved stories already have fan bases at home as well as overseas. Adaptations of classic novels like Journey To The West by China flagship broadcaster CCTV in the 1980s and 1990s were hits in many markets, especially Hong Kong, Taiwan and South-east Asia, where viewers are familiar with Chinese culture.
These days, China still exports mainly historical or martial arts dramas, though shows with modern-day settings are becoming slightly more popular, said deputy general manager Cheng Chunli of the China International Television Corporation, which accounts for 80 per cent of Chinese TV shows sold abroad.
China has an edge in historical dramas, she noted, with its range of shooting locations and grasp of Chinese history.
"These shows may lack entertainment value compared to shows elsewhere, but they are our trademark," she said.
If Chinese dramas are not known to be entertaining, that may have something to do with how they were traditionally propaganda tools, and the fact that censorship still prevails.
Last year, Narrow Dwellings, a drama which resonated with Chinese viewers as it reflected real-life issues such as surging housing prices, official corruption and extramarital affairs, had to revise its dialogue after the authorities took issue with it.
Overall, China has a long way to go before becoming a leading exporter of TV dramas, in part because many Chinese firms are more focused on the home market, said former MediaCorp actor Chunyu Shanshan, who is now based in Beijing.
"The bosses I met have tried going overseas but soon gave up. They ask: "Why spend so much effort just to tap one or two overseas markets? Why not just focus on the Chinese market?''
Domestic sales made up most of the 2.1 billion yuan revenue from TV dramas in China last year, with foreign sales making up only 5 per cent, according to figures from China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television.
Another problem is the gap between what Chinese and overseas viewers enjoy, Mr Chunyu said. He cited Infiltration, a critically acclaimed drama about a Chinese Communist Party spy who wormed his way into the rival Kuomintang.
Overseas viewers may not be able to relate to it as they may not be familiar with the two political parties, which waged a civil war for control of China, he said.
In Singapore, for instance, swordfighting and historical dramas like Return Of The Condor Heroes and Justice Bao are still the main genres of Chinese dramas shown by MediaCorp, said Ms Ho Soo Fung, vice-president for programming and operations at Channel 8 and Channel U.
Others dismissed cultural differences, and said the key problem with Chinese drama serials is the lack of quality.
"The plots of Chinese drama series are full of loopholes. In contrast, American shows often have solid production values," said TV viewer Xie Fang, 37, who is self-employed.
Likewise, manager Li Na, 36, finds that Chinese dramas are too contrived.
What ails China's TV industry is also the oversupply of drama serials, observers said. Only about half of more than 12,000 episodes of TV dramas made each year are screened. The rest do not even make the cut. This drives down the prices of the shows and squeezes the profits of TV production houses, resulting in a vicious circle of less investment and lower quality.
Still, with the world becoming more interested in a rising China, many reckon that China's time will come.
"We saw the J-wave and now, the K-wave. Given time, there might be a strong China-wave," said MediaCorp's Ms Ho, referring to the popularity of Japanese and Korean pop culture. Additional reporting by Carol Feng
May 17, 2011
a fruitful list of released tv dramas from China, Japan and Korea¬¬¬¬
Sorry... for the lazy absense~ I'll be back soon to add something for the past week without writing anything here...
I am now sitting in the library of warwick, just find a bit information which might be useful to our BBC Worldwide project... so quick save it here as the following -
Might contact this one~~
Associate Professor, Director of Teaching, Contemporary Chinese Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences
- workRoom D6 International House
- work0115 84 66323
- fax0115 84 66324
- ZHANG, X., 2010. China’s International Broadcasting: The Case of CCTV International. In: WANG, J, ed. Soft Power in China: Public Diplomacy through Communication. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 57 - 71
- ZHANG, X., 2008. Internationalization and Chinese TV Drama Export. TV Studies, 2, 100-115.
- ZHANG, XIAOLING, 2007. Globalisation of Chinese TV Drama: Challenges and Opportunities. Critical Studies in Television: Scholarly Studies in Small Screen Fictions, 2(2), 31-46.
May 06, 2011
After finished reading the first two chapters of the 'Seven days in the Art world', my research of major project finally began today. Since I'd like to make an ethnographic research about decision making in the process of creativity. Basically, I will become a participant + observer during the process of co-producing a documentary with sarah.
According to the research till now, fundamental methods that have been applied during the ethnographic research comprises interview and observation. In my case, observation is easy to do. However, interview may not be the suitable way. As an independent production involves only sarah and I, what else ways can I apply to this project?
By the way, sarah was left alone today by her team mates and suffered a lot with her supervisor~~
It is quite an intense day today~ Got our blocked shower drain and leaking sink pipe fixed, finished cooking and eating lunch in half an hour and catch the train to get to white city very much earlier than the time we are supposed to be there...
Finally got our briefing at BBC Worldwide Media Centre, and met Gary, Sarah and Tim. Gary is a bit fatty, friendly and easy-going 'boss'. He should be that kind of business authority. But, conversely, he is quite approachable and make everyone nearby comfortable. Sarah is very interested in what is happening on the screens of other countries and very experienced and knowledgable and have a pair of drama-performer eyes. Tim is a little bit too much serious and definitely a hardworking researcher style like staff at BBC Worldwide. The briefing today is very clear, direct and comprehensive. They know exactly what they want us to do. I like the media centre building very much, hopefully I can find some work similar to those there one day, but for now I am not sufficiently capable.
As a team, we six today was pretty much good looking and showed our understanding and passion to BBC and this particular project. However, to be honest, I think our team need more 'management' to be more efficiency though we just got the brief this afternoon. Maybe I am over concentrated...
And as an individual, I still behaviored a little bit nervous today and I must practise more to start, keep and develop conversations with others!!!!
Definitely have to make that Video-diary tomorrow!!!
Terrapinn: still nothing!!(WHY???)
O&G AD June: already closed...... (:(...what another opportunity I have wasted!!)
BBC Film: planed to finish writing synopsis for ten 'BBC' (produced or distributed or partly financed) films before the application deadline Mid June!!
Film crew: need my reel re-edited and re-packed soon!!!
Documentary: kids and family interviewees in need!!!!!
May 05, 2011
Apart from the CBP group project and presentation, I also have to finish a short not-really academic writing, a 2,500 words refelctive writing assignment to analyse what I will learn during the CBP project. Today's seminar is a bit boring again, more than two hours discussing what is a 'reflective' writing and how to write one~ I have to say, sorry Ruth, it is boring! But I still agree it's helpful and made me think how to make more advantage out of this unique experience~
Firstly, you should be a bit discriptive, but not merely discribing~ You have to comprise discussion and would better stay distantly away from you own perspective and try to be objective. To my understanding, too long or too vivid is not neccessary to be bad and some sorts of conclusion and future action plan is suggested.
This afternoon, I finally met my supervisor after around two months' holiday break and agreed with him to have my 'first major project supervision meeting' next Wednessday afternoon. I could feel a little bit that he was not enjoying the conversation or talk or chat with me, at least not as enjoyable as with some of my other classmates~ maybe because my language weakness... maybe because I am just sort of person has a lack of 'chat gravity'! Seriously, this is definitely a bad thing! To be a competitive, 'promising', practioner in our promising creative sector, I think I'd better become a guy with more 'chat gravity'. Since I may fail my plan that 'persuade my lecturer to agree to help us film our documentary', I didn't mention this intention to my lecturer when I was having my a bit awkward, a bit dry dialogue with him. I decided to have some preparation and strategicly do this important 'persuasion'!! Another shortlist - short term goal - here, to obtain more 'chat gravity' before I finish my three supervision meeting with my poor supervisor... I'm sorry dear supervisor, it's completely my fault that cannot make you enjoy talking with me~ I'll try to fix it during the next a few months~
BBC Worldwide project: Go to briefing at Wood Lane Media Centre tomorrow!!!!!!
Terrapinn: still have not started yet.......
O&M AD JUNE: nothing......
BBC FILM: July/Aug Deadline: 15th, May; Aug/Sep Deadline: 14th, Jun......
May 04, 2011
Sarah was distracting... couldn't finish my last post...
Nothing serious, just want to add some short-term goals here.
From now on till the week nine of this term, I will:
finish a good project with my mates, film a good documentary with Sarah, write this blog everyday and keep a weekly video-record, write at least eight film review for the application of placement at BBC Film, apply for Terrapinn, O&M's June programme no matter how much chance I'll have~~
Go! Go! Harvey go!
Writing about web page http://www.bbcworldwide.com
I have to keep some sorts of habits to practise and advance my language ability, if I really want to obtain any work placements, internships or even jobs here at this country, this a bit pride, lazy and obsolenscence Great Britain.
My one-year master has aready more-than-half-way finished, there is just one module left, which is a relatively practical one and comprises only four seminars on campus. We will work in small teams and attempt to help a 'real' company to solve a 'real' problem. Ruth managed to allocate five companies for this year's 'Creative Business Project' - one Birmingham based production company, BBC Worldwide, independent music brand AIM/AIF, researh agency GFK and game developper Codemaster~ To be honest, I'd like to work with some of my great/talented european classmates and prefer the production company or the well-known BBC Worldwide. At last, I am lucky enough to be chosen as a member of the BBC Worldwide team and will work with Jose, Andrew, Rachel, Haruki and Sarvanghi. The briefing will be on this Thursday and I cannot wait to see that 'creative' media centre of BBC Worldwide. Our project will base on a question relating to BBC Worldwide's future business development (sounds cool, right), whether or not BBC Worldwide should distribute non-English content? So our team is quite diverse in terms of nationalities.
As part of this progressing project, I have to keep a weekly video-record-blog as sort of reference. And I give myself another work, that is to keep a daily record in this blog to 1) practise my English, 2) make some contribution to the research and self-development relating to our BBC project. Hopefully I can stick to it~ It's a nine-week project, and during this two months I will have to finish a short documentary with my dear Sarah and try to at least find some placement or internship to increase my work experience~~
I've done a bit fundamental research about BBC Worldwide tonight, very basic... They are just beside me now lying on my lovely notebook. I'll try to remember all the stuff I have found and write them down here:
BBC Worldwide is the commercial arm of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), founded in 1997, aiming at creating, acquiring, developping and exploiting media content and brand around the world. All its activities have to meet four criteria - fit the BBC's Public Purposes, be commercially efficient, not jeopardise BBC's reputation or the brand value and avoid distorting the market. It has six operating businesses including channels, content&production, sales&distribution, global brand, consumer product and BBC magazines............ I can't do this anymore, quite boring right?! Actually, I was peeping all the time.....
When I came back last week from our first seminar, my brain can't stop thinking about the question. If BBC decide to distribute China's non-English content, what will happen? There are tons of films, TV programmes in China never think about seek an international distribution. It may bring the world to UK, but is it a market worth exploitation? For instance in China, around 400 rubbish like films produced every year and more than half of them may never meet the audience and also many high-quality independent productions being made every year cannot find a way to acquire the permission to enter the market. Maybe some of them are controversial, maybe some of them are not as good as the commercial blockbuster existing in the market. However, to some extent, these movies are more realistic than .......