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Specialist Guide to the
Global Leaders in Media Law Practice
China’s media market is among the largest in the world. Its industry expansion over the past year continues to diversify market activity while state media services unite in one of the most significant mergers to date.
According to state media reports in March 2018, Television broadcaster CCTV and two state radio platforms, China Radio International (CRI) and China National Radio, will merge to become one entity to be called Voice of China.
The deal will create a global broadcast platform to bolster the country’s “soft power” abroad, and broaden its international footprint.
The country’s official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, People’s Daily, announced that the new entity will “publicise Communist party theories, guidelines and policies” and “strengthen international broadcasting capacities”.
Other significant market developments include the country’s consolidation of regulatory oversight.
In March 2018, Xinhua News Agency announced news that China plans to merge its ministries to create new regulators with oversight of film, news and publishing.
In business news, Tencent is set to rival Hollywood as China moves to develop original content.
The Motion Picture Association of America reported in its annual report in April 2018 that global cinema box office sales reached a record high of USD40.6 billion in the previous year.
China largely accounted for growth with USD7.9 billion in ticket sales, overtaking Canada and the US, whose revenue intake was at its lowest in
Charles Rivkin, Chairman of Motion Picture Association of America, said: “The Chinese film market is going to be the largest film market in short order.”
Tim Mulligan, Senior Analyst at MIDIA Research commented on Tencent’s ‘strategic imperative’ to increase the quality of its content.
Mr Mulligan explained in his May 2018 article that, with its investments in US production company Skydance Media and France’s Ubisoft, ‘Tencent is able to gain greater control over securing premium video and gaming content for its user base.’
Sports and digital media are Bird & Bird’s core focus areas. Leading sports lawyer Justin Walkey manages the division and represents high profile clients including Jazeera’s beIN Sport. The team advises mobile game publishers and corporate clients on sports-related sponsorships. Data protection is also a key area of focus for the firm, which works with clients from the Asia-Pacific region on related-matters.
Lawyers at Fangda Partners advise on commercial and regulatory aspects of the telecommunications, media and internet markets. The team works with content providers and broadcasters on licensing and outsourcing contracts, e-commerce, advertising, intellectual property and advices on regulatory changes.
Media and Entertainment expert Hylands Law Firmis recognised by peers and clients for its film and television specialisation. Led by founding partner Xiaogang Ma, the team advises on adaptation and creation of script, investment and financing, Sino-foreign co-productions and the import and export of film and television content. Lawyers, including astute practitioner Zhengning Li, also represent music and recoding companies, print publishers and sports industry clients.
O’Melveny & Myers is a recognised leader for media law. Its sector coverage includes entertainment, sports, internet and emerging technologies. The team acts for high profile television, music and new media companies, strategic investors and individual talent. The practice group is co-managed by Stephen Scharf and Matthew Erramouspe.
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison is known for its sector-related corporate and transactional work. Lawyers advise strategic and financial investors on all aspects of the TMT sectors in Asia, including strategic acquisitions and joint ventures. The firm’s clients include, DreamWorks Animation, Tencent and Universal Studios.
Baker McKenzie has been doing business in China for 40 years. With its primary emphasis on intellectual property, the firm is a popular choice for copyright cases across segment including entertainment, sports and technology. Key practitioners include , who manages the firm’s IP practice in China and Hong Kong, and who focusses on cross-border litigation and enforcement in both regions.
Clifford Chance’s cross-border advice dominates its TMT work. Richard Blewett and Terence Foo lead a practice well regarded by peers for its advice on anti-trust and competition law. Practitioners specialise in sector-related public-to-private transactions, mergers and overseas acquisitions.
Simmons & Simmons has a dedicated TMT practice specialising in corporate and commercial matters. The firm has a diverse portfolio that includes leading online, e-commerce and entertainment companies. Head of division David Wang has extensive experience representing multinational companies, including software companies and venture capital investors in China and the US.
Wan Hui Da Law Firm is among the region’s leaders for copyright, enforcement and litigation. Present since 1992, the firm has a high profile client base that includes multinational companies. Founding partner Gang Bai is reputed for his litigation skills and works closely with enforcement specialist Liang Su.
Covington & Burling is appointed by Hollywood studios and leading independent production studios. Key practitioner works with the wider team advising television companies, sports organisations, funds and investors, individual actors and directors. The practice is also known for advice on complex regulatory matters.
Deacons primarily focusses on intellectual property advice to media and entertainment clients. The firm is appointed by multinational companies that include Hollywood studios, production houses and distributors, music publishers and advertisers. Working with key practitioner , lawyers assisted Hong Kong’s largest television network, advised Twentieth Century Fox on high-profile film projects in China and advised on the establishment of a distribution company.
Weil, Gotshal & Manges acts for media and entertainment clients on corporate and transactional cases ranging from spin-offs and IPOs to financings and restructurings. The team has extensive experience advising overseas clients on complex contractual and licensing disputes.
Grandall Legal Group concentrates on intellectual property advice with key areas of work including unfair competition, licensing, investment and financing of rights. Lawyers also assist with overseas mergers and acquisitions and act for companies establishing a presence abroad. Other service areas include telecommunications, IT and e-commerce.
King & Wood Mallesons has a global focus on entertainment, data protection and privacy. The media group advises on complex regulatory requirements, transactions and disputes. Other areas of focus include digital advertising, technology and sector-related tax.
Liu, Shen & Associates specialises in intellectual property. Founded in 1993, the practice has an established copyright division with long-standing emphasis on protection and enforcement. Michelle Ma manages the firm’s media group, which also handles litigation and dispute resolution.
Ranking and editorials
Bird & Bird
O'Melveny & Myers
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
Morrison & Foerster
Simmons & Simmons
Wan Hui Da Law Firm
Covington & Burling
Herbert Smith Freehills
Weil, Gotshal & Manges
Zhong Lun Law Firm
Grandall Law Firm
King & Wood Mallesons
Liu, Shen & Associates
Vivien Chan & Co.
RANKING AND EDITORIALS