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China to Ban Foreign Cartoons in 'Golden Hours'
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From Sept. 1, Chinese children will be able to watch domestic cartoon programs during 5 PM to 8 PM every day, according to a regulation by China's TV watchdog.


The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) has decided to ban all foreign cartoons during the "golden hours", reported the Beijing News on Sunday.


No foreign cartoons or programs of introducing foreign cartoons can be shown during the period on all domestic cartoon channels and children channels, the regulation says.


Only after 8 PM can foreign cartoons appear on TV, it requires.


The regulation has been issued to local TV stations but the administration has not made it public, according to the newspaper.


Cartoon programs co-produced by domestic and foreign producers will have to get approval from SARFT to show during 5 PM and 8 PM from Sept. 1.


The first foreign cartoon introduced to China was a Japanese cartoon called "Astro Boy" series in 1981. Since then, a large quantity of foreign cartoons crammed into China.


In 2000, a regulation by the SARFT required local TV stations get approval from the administration and set quotas for imported cartoons to show on TV. By that time, China's cartoon programs had nearly been monopolized by Japanese cartoons.


In 2004, the SARFT issued another regulation, requesting for at least 60 percent of cartoon programs aired in a quarter to be domestic products. The regulation resulted in a sharp decrease of foreign cartoons on local TV.


Incomplete surveys show about 80 percent of interviewed Chinese children like foreign cartoons and a certain number of them said they didn't like domestic cartoons, according to the Southern Metropolis News.


With the effects of regulations and the establishment of 15 film and cartoon production bases in recent years, domestic cartoon industry attracted huge civil investment, resulting in a sharp rise of cartoon programs in 2005.


However, due to the poor popularity among children, domestic cartoons found it hard to show during "golden hours", and even had troubles to retrieve the production costs.


The new regulation aimed to save domestic cartoon industry by "clearing up the sky" with preferential policies, said an editorial of the Southern Metropolis News on Sunday.


Hopefully the quality of domestic cartoons may improve after several years of internal competition, but the move might hurt the interests of children, which in fact was "a deprival of consuming rights of the public", it argued.


Moreover, it was the content of domestic cartoons that lost the audience, said the editorial, therefore improving the creation environment of cartoon makers is more crucial than such market-protecting measures.


Finally it said it was reasonable and necessary to introduce quota system into the cartoon competition to protect the domestic industry, but the complete prohibition of foreign cartoons and compulsory screening of domestic ones during popular hours was rather irrational.


"This is a worrying, short-sighted policy and would not solve the fundamental problems in China's cartoon industry," it concluded.


(Xinhua News Agency August 13, 2006)

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