Most Read Contributor in Hong Kong, September 2016
Co-written by Agnes Wong, Consultant, Johnson Stokes &
Originally published in May 2002
The Provisional Measures for the Administration of the
Examination and Approval of the Landing of Foreign Satellite
Television Channel (the "Measures") were promulgated by
the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television
("SARFT") and took effect from 1st February, 2002. The
Measures aim at tightening control over foreign satellite
television by regulating the approval system of all satellite
broadcasting into the PRC.
Foreign satellite television channels may, with approval from
the SARFT, broadcast to three star hotels (or above) and
guesthouses catering for foreign guests and buildings exclusively
for office and residential use by expatriates and other designated
Pursuant to Article 5 of the Measures, the criteria for applying
for the landing right are:
(a) The content of the programmes must not violate Chinese laws,
regulations or similar rules;
(b) The channel is among the top three television media in its
home country (or region) in terms of overall ranking and audience
(c) The broadcaster is capable of providing
"reciprocal" co-operation to China and promises to land
and actively assists in landing Chinese radio and television
(d) The broadcaster has friendly relations with China and must
actively facilitate friendly exchanges and co-operation between
Chinese and foreign radio and television broadcasters; and
(e) The broadcaster agrees to centralise the transmission of its
programmes via an organisation designated by the SARFT and
undertakes not to land such programmes in China by any other
These requirements are somewhat subjective and therefore
difficult to apply clearly, as with other industries, for example
telecoms, China wishes to encourage major players from abroad at
the expense of second line players. The requirement for reciprocity
is particularly troublesome. The requirement implies that foreign
broadcasters must offer reciprocal arrangements to broadcast
programmes from the state-owned China Central Television on their
own channels before they can obtain landing rights in China. To
some foreign broadcasters, this may not be worth the effort unless
they are given wide coverage in China in return (as opposed to
being restricted for hotels in minor cities for example).
To apply for landing right, a foreign broadcaster must file
through an exclusive agent designated by the SARFT who shall
represent them in all matters relating to broadcasts to China. When
filing the application, the foreign broadcaster must submit a
satellite television channel memorandum, evidence of its
capabilities as required by Article 5, other explanatory
information and information about its reception devices (e.g.
decoders). Further materials or information should be provided
within 2 weeks of notification from the SARFT. Otherwise, the
application is considered to be voluntarily withdrawn.
Applications can only be filed between July and September of
each year as the SARFT shall only process applications once a year.
After approval is granted, the foreign broadcaster must conclude a
contract with the exclusive agent within 90 days. Otherwise, the
foreign broadcaster shall be deemed to have given up its landing
If the licensed foreign broadcaster broadcasts prohibited
content or broadcasts in a manner outside the scope of its Licence
then the unauthorised broadcasts will be ordered to stop. If such
licensed broadcaster contravenes the Measures 3 times in 1 year,
then its licence will be forfeited and that broadcaster cannot
re-apply for landing right in the next 3 years.
The original email legal update is copyright Johnson
Stokes & Master at the date written first above. All rights
reserved. This publication provides information and comments on
legal issues and developments of interest to our clients and
friends. The foregoing is intended to provide a general guide to
the subject matter and is not intended to provide legal advice or a
substitute for specific advice concerning individual situations.
Readers should seek legal advice before taking any action with
respect to the matters discussed herein. Please also read the JSM
legal publications Disclaimer.
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