D-day has arrived in the halls of the Chinese domestic viewing experience and the howls of rage and sadness abound. Late last year in 2014, the almighty SARFT (State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film) issued one of its inexplicable decrees concerning what can be aired in China whether on the big screen, televisions, and even internet viewing portals. This particular decree had widespread ramifications that reverberated strongly in US television entertainment as well as K-drama land. SARFT’s edict demanded that starting in 2015, no overseas shows can be aired online in China if it’s not completed already, and those must first be screened by SARFT and approved.
The US television industry naturally went batshit since US shows are seasonal and run for many years before a series finale airs so there is no way popular shows will ever see the light of day over the Chinese web waves. K-dramas are less problematic since the short ones are 16-episodes and the long weekend dramas still have finite episodes upwards of 50-episodes. But this still means K-dramas can no longer be live-aired online and must wait for a show finish before getting SARFT approval. Last year all the popular K-dramas made headlines for how much it sold the online rights to various Chinese video portals like Youku or iQiyi, not to mention how many times a drama was viewed in China became a badge of its popularity. That’s all over (for) now.
C-netizens were hoping SARFT either backtracked on this edict or postponed the enforcement, but sadly that’s not to be. Starting January 1st of this year, K-drama fans in China grew increasingly concerned when there have no new K-dramas streaming legally over the Chinese video portals whether its new SBS weekend drama Birth of a Family, MBC prime time drama Kill Me Heal Me, or any news of upcoming KBS drama Spy which lots of Jaejoong fans in China have been anticipating. The still airing K-dramas which premiered in late 2014 will be allowed to finish up its legal streaming run on the video portals which purchased the exclusive rights, including Pinocchio, Healer, The King’s Face, Punch, Pride & Prejudice, and so forth.
This is why there have been no news articles on how much upcoming Hyun Bin drama Hyde, Jekyll, Me sold to China video streaming since the big video streaming companies can no longer buy rights to air a K-drama until it finishes the entire run and obtains SARFT approval. Same goes for Kill Me Heal Me which doesn’t have an official Chinese video airing platform since the airing rights hasn’t been scooped up in China. This edict won’t affect HK-dramas since it’s one country-two systems so HK-entertainment is not considered overseas. Not sure if TW-dramas will fall under this radar since that’s a touchy political question there. J-doramas are less popular in China but still have plenty of fans, all of whom are equally disappointed not to be able to live-watch news shows, unless pirated of course.