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Turn on, tune in, ship out

Updated: 2018-07-02 07:32:58

( Xinhua )

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The TV program National Treasure features the history of 27 Chinese cultural relics and has garnered huge interest from abroad after becoming a hit in China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Only a few years ago, when people talked about the TV industry, China was seen as a key buyer and a gigantic import market. In the past, if you flipped through TV programs in China, you would see series from The Netherlands, Britain and South Korea and other countries around the world. Now, the trend is reversing as ambitious Chinese producers and TV channels are seeking to develop original programming and export their own productions.

From 'Made in China' to 'Created in China'

In April, Chinese producers showcased original Chinese TV show formats at the annual MIPFormats event in Cannes, France.

National Treasure, a weekly program featuring the history of 27 Chinese cultural relics, garnered huge interest from abroad after becoming a hit in China.

In historical re-enactments, celebrities and ordinary people acted as emperors and artists to show the story behind each artifact. The program sparked a sense of national cultural pride among Chinese people.

Experts said the program offers a complete package to overseas buyers and it is not difficult for people from different cultures to enjoy it.

"China is on its way to becoming a global provider of original TV formats," said Laurine Garaude, director of the television division of Reed MIDEM, the host company of MIPFormats.

It was not the first time that Chinese TV productions had impressed overseas buyers. Ancient Games, an epically-themed sports reality show, was presented at the Cannes TV event in 2017.

The gladiatorial show was the brainchild of Chinese company 3C Media and British Indie producer, ZigZag. The idea was first proposed by ZigZag, and co-developed by the pair.

Matt Graff, managing director of ZigZag, says his cooperation with the Chinese team was fascinating, and he was impressed by the efforts of the Chinese team in localizing and polishing the structure.

Both sides agreed that the show should blend local and global elements to reach a larger market.

Graff said it is a perfect example of how cooperation between a Chinese and a British TV production company could yield fruit, and how a little idea can turn into a huge success.

Dawn McCarthy-Simpson, director of international strategy with the Producers' Alliance for Cinema and Television in Britain, sees things similarly.

She says China's ambition has moved from "Made in China" to "Created in China," noting that, with over 3,000 TV channels, the industry is full of opportunities.

Besides entertainment, China is also gradually becoming a key player in the global market for documentaries.

Recently, Chinese internet giant Tencent and the BBC signed an agreement to produce high-quality documentaries together.

The BBC has seen the huge potential and advantages of online platforms in China, with the co-produced Blue Planet reaching 220 million viewers globally.

Jason Emerton, funding and commercial manager for coproductions at the BBC, says coproductions allow both sides to pool their resources, complement each other and expand the common market.

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