This paper looks at the growing trend towards television format adaptation as an industry development strategy in China. As China's television industry professionals imagine a commercial future, this vision is tempered by the reality of a deficit of quality content. Program schedules exhibit limited variety and are dominated by cheap variety show formats, royal court television dramas, game shows, and news. In search of new ways to stimulate audiences, producers have looked outside China to formats successful in Taiwan, SAR Hong Kong, Japan, Europe and the U.S. The localization of foreign programs represents a more useful experiment for China’s domestic industry than the importation of finished programs. Unlike finished programs the format can be 'filled' with culturally specific content, and where licensed co-productions ensue there is potential for added value in terms of technology transfer. I argue, however, that the strategy of format adaptation is a short-term solution to program development that is unlikely to stimulate a creative media-based economy
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