• Other foreign media firms follow Discovery's strategy in bringing content to Chinese audiences.

Other foreign media firms follow Discovery's strategy in bringing content to Chinese audiences. (Photo : Getty Images)

China’s new rules on content proved to be a significant obstacle for foreign media as very few strategies have become effective in getting shows from overseas to be seen in the country.

A report from The Wall Street Journal featured some of the most effective tactics that foreign media were able to create in order to overcome challenges presented by China's new law on media content.

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The law, which was first published in February, covered all online content and affected not only media but also tech companies as they became subject to stricter scrutiny than ever.

The Chinese Content Law

According to a report from Fortune, the regulations that took effect on March 10 became a solid proof that China is bent on controlling the flow of information, which has already been felt by many foreign media outlets since the emergence of the Great Firewall.

The report explained that the rules stipulate that all Internet-based content should be hosted by servers from inside the country and will only be allowed to go on air after approval from the Communist Party-controlled regulators, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

The rules cover all types of content including maps, text, audio files, cartoons, and even games.

Analysts quoted by the report believe that while the rules may appear very strict, they do not necessarily mean that all content from abroad will be blocked.

"Foreign media have never been able to operate freely in China, so in some ways there is nothing new here," Danwei director Jeremy Goldkorn explained, adding that the new rules would only mean that the affected companies will be facing "even greater scrutiny and pressure."

Strategies to Overcome the Obstacle

Ever since the clampdown on foreign media content, several companies have tried to find ways of overcoming the obstacles they face in China.

Some used the partnering strategy, which entails teaming up with China-based and Chinese-owned companies, since the rule states that the content can only be hosted by a local server.

"This partnership may be the best option now given the current market situation and policy," Hina Group's Bill Zhao explained, referring to Discovery Communications' partnership with Wasu Digital Television Media Group.

According to WSJ, Discovery Channel shows are now airing contents online via Wasu's "Qiu Suo," which literally means "search," since they first teamed up in 2014.

Because of the continued success of this team-up, many media firms decided to follow this strategy to be able to reach Chinese audiences despite the new content rules.