Shanzhai (Chinese: 山寨) refers to imitation and pirated brands and goods. It used to be a particular word for electronics and luxury goods, but now it refers to all kinds of fake or plagiarized products in China. As we mentioned in previous blogs, Chinese TV channels are competing on buying foreign tv reality shows. Along with this trend, the costs of copyright increasing dramatically from millions RMB (1 €=7 RMB) to 10 times above it. Some local TV channels find a way to avoid expensive copyright costs by shanzhai foreign tv reality shows. Will this behavior stop the globalization of reality shows in China?
Infinite Challenge is a South Korean television reality show program created in 2006. Episodes are so popular that it was frequently returned on several South Korean cable broadcasting channels. In 2015, Chinese TV channel Shanghai TV started a project called GO! Fighting!. It has the same format as Infinite Challenge – 6 celebrities as the resident hosts, related to current society problems, multiple missions to finish and so on.
GO! Fighting! started on June 2015, it attracted attention almost immediately after broadcasting. The online discussions are real hot spots. Their has-tags on social networks are always on the top of searching trend. Many comments say that this is the best reality show they have ever seen.
However, in July, Infinite Challenge program announced that there is no Chinese version of Infinite Challenge yet and GO! Fighting! is a plagiarized program. They actually sold the copyright to another TV channel. With this announcement there are contrast with each other. Infinite Challenge claimed that whether the lens position, related switching or even the style of subtitles of GO! Fighting! are copying from them.
However the reply from GO! Fighting! program is different – “Whether a program or video works, some creative thoughts are similar, this is a very common phenomenon. But even with similar thoughts, under different regions, different nationalities, different hosts, different directors, different social environment, different job classifications and different rules for design, the result is not the same. More programs actually enrich the audience space and choices.”
The irony is that many audience agree with GO! Fighting!, the program has already gained popularity from the audience. Also the real Chinese version of Infinite Challenge was still on processing at that moment, not on broadcasting yet. This also caused problem for Infinite Challenge to defend legal rights and interests.
It seems that, as long as a program got support from the most of audience, no one cares if it’s illegal or fully copy from others without getting copyright. Although because of accusations of plagiarism from Infinite Challenge, causing a halt in production for almost a month, with the newest episode airing on the 6th of September, 28 days after the previous episode, there are still season 2 coming in 2016. This could be a bad sign for foreign reality shows which are willing to expand Chinese market.