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Daily life of Chinese family is TV hit in Africa (3)

(Global Times)

08:19, April 12, 2013

'Enter' the market

Liu said Doudou succeeds in Africa mainly because the theme is right. "Family ethics are the eternal subject that all can understand easily and find resonant." But it wouldn't be so popular if the drama had used subtitles instead of Swahili dubbing.

It is the first Chinese TV drama to be dubbed into Swahili, which shows great respect to the local audience, Liu said. Swahili is the official language in Tanzania and about one tenth of all the population in Africa use Swahili, which accounts for about 100 million people. The wide coverage of Swahili motivated Liu to suggest dubbing the drama.

According to Liu, 10 years ago, Journey to the West (1986) was introduced but the drama was a failure as it only had English subtitles.

"TV sets just got widespread in Tanzania and the screens in most families are rather small. The Chinese lines would be very long translated into Swahili subtitles," Liu said.

Besides, even if English is used in Tanzania, the local audience has more passion for programs in Swahili. So Liu insisted on dubbing Doudou in Swahili while communicating with relevant parties from both countries.

Drawing experience from Doudou, China Radio International, who dubbed Doudou, established a "dubbing center for TV dramas" to dub Chinese TV dramas into rare foreign languages. Next, it will dub in Swahili Jin Tailang's Happy Life, another TV drama about a Chinese family.

The statistics from SARFT show that the output of TV dramas reached about 15,000 episodes every year, making China arguably a big producer, but their success abroad is rare.

Yu Qianxin with TVB in Hong Kong said it's more urgent for Chinese programs to "enter" the market. "More and more (programs) are going global, which is actually very easy. 'Entering' the market means allowing foreign audiences to accept and like (you)," he once told Dongfang Daily.

Liu agreed: while the success of Doudou lets the industry see more hope and arouses a wave of dubbing TV dramas, he suggested, to really get in, the project should proceed based on local customs and acceptability. "We should listen to their opinion and show sufficient respect to the local audience," he said.

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