TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan's culture minister said Friday the island will invest more than $20 million to reinvigorate the local production of TV drama series that has faltered under competition from mainland China and South Korea.
Lung Yin-tai said the government will fund the making of five flagship drama series and help TV stations attract talent to raise the content and quality of their productions.
Until a few years ago, Taiwanese soap operas had captivated China with heart-wrenching love stories featuring stylishly dressed protagonists.
But Chinese filmmakers have struck back, leveraging high salaries to attract Taiwanese actors and other movie workers to work on the mainland.
"We hope to attract young movie workers, actors and script writers to the industry to help us penetrate the Mandarin-language drama market," Lung said in a statement. "These people should have no worries about whether the dramas are politically correct or be held responsible for pushing government views, but rather focus on making good dramas so viewers can stay glued to their TVs every day."
Last year, the island's drama series took only a 16 per cent share of foreign drama productions aired in China, falling well behind Hong Kong and South Korea, according to the Taiwan government.
Taiwanese TV dramas have also lost out in the home market.
Chinese historical and imperial court dramas have captivated Taiwanese who share the same language and culture with the Chinese, even though South Korean-made series — with their refined productions — have a wider appeal in Asia.
In the first six months of this year, China-produced drama series accounted for 27 per cent of prime-time drama showings in Taiwan, according to government statistics.
South Korean dramas took up 26 per cent of the local market, following by Japan's 8 per cent and Hong Kong's 3.5 per cent. The rest were locally produced.
Lung said Taiwan will ask Chinese television stations to exempt the island from a sweeping ban on prime-time airing of foreign-made series. She said Taiwan does not impose a similar ban on mainland productions.