Australian TV firm secures broadcasting rights in China which could see political shows air live

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 10.20.27 AMABC International and its Australia Network have announced a long-term partnership with China’s second biggest broadcaster Shanghai Media Group that will see the public broadcaster sell programming into the world’s biggest ­television market.

The ABC is one of the first Western networks to secure such a deal which, according to the statement, comes with the support of media authorities of the Chinese Government in Shanghai.

“This historic agreement opens up a whole new world of television and online cooperation between Australia and China,” said Mark Scott managing director of the ABC. “It provides a truly unique window for all Australian media to build a friendly and mutually cooperative relationship with China.”

The detailed agreement to formalise the arrangement is to be signed in Shanghai on May 4 and will see ABC International establish an online portal for its content in China that will allow a range of ABC and other Australian media content and services to be offered and presented to partner Chinese media organisations.

Asked if the deal would mean political programs such as Q&A would be broadcast live into mainland China John Woodward, head of marketing of ABC International, said the deal would give them the capability to do so.

“We do have the ability to send stuff live into China, because of the arrangement with this new portal,” said Woodward. “It is like any (online) portal really when content is posted, it goes live. So the answer in terms of the ability to send information live into China is there for us.”

However, Woodward declined to comment about potential for political sensitivities of such live broadcasts. Last week the ABC posted its Shanghai Q&A on Chinese video platform Youku due to the Chinese government’s restrictions on Google’s video platform YouTube.

The ABC will also establish a base in Shanghai with official approval to represent and sell media content across China, enter into international co-productions, and generate international sponsorship and promotional opportunities.

Sun Wei, the executive director of the Shanghai Media Group’s International Channel Shanghai, said: “Ground breaking international broadcasts such as Q&A, which was produced as a collaboration between Australian and Chinese television crews, pave the way for bigger and better international media cooperation and cultural connections in the future.”

Nic Christensen


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