BEIJING: All foreign films and TV programmes streamed online in China will need to be licensed by the country's media regulator, the Chinese authorities announced on Friday amid reports that foreign content must not exceed 30% of the market.

China's State Administration of Press and Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) announced that online video sites planning to broadcast foreign content must now apply for a licence for each programme they intend to broadcast, Xinhua reported.

They have been given a deadline of March 31 2015 to ensure that all foreign-produced content has been licensed, after which all non-registered content will be removed.

"Without a publication license, no overseas films or TV series are allowed to run online," the SAPPRFT said in a statement.

"We encourage online audio and visual program providers to import, in an appropriate amount, cinema and TV works that are healthy, well-made and showcase good values so as to absorb fine cultural achievements across the globe and meet people's increasing spiritual and cultural demand," it continued.

Unnamed industry sources reported earlier in the Wall Street Journal had indicated that the new policy would be implemented within days.

The new quota system could have implications for popular video sites like Sohu, Youku Tudou, Iqiyi, and Tencent, it was reported, although an executive at a Chinese broadcasting company thought the move could lead to lower prices.

Despite numerous reports in the media that licensed foreign content might not be allowed to exceed 30% of the total domestic content licensed in the previous year, the SAPPRFT did not mention this requirement in its statement.

The development comes five months after the Chinese authorities banned four US TV shows, including "The Big Bang Theory" and "The Good Wife", from domestic video sites.

Data sourced from Xinhua, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff