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China to Produce 70,000 Minutes of Cartoons in 2006

China's cartoon industry is expected to produce 70,000 minutes of animation this year, a sign the industry is developing rapidly.

The country has produced more than 50,000 minutes of cartoons so far this year, exceeding the total output last year of 47,200 minutes.

"The rapid development of China's cartoon industry is attracting more and more international attention," said Jin Delong, an official with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT).

Earlier this year, the Sunchime Cartoon Group, a producer based in Changsha, signed a contract with U.K.-based Eaglemoss Publications, selling its publishing copyright on the Blue Cat, a would-be Chinese rival of Mickey Mouse.

A popular syndicated program called Little Magic Dragon Club began purchasing domestically-made animations this year after previously offering a diet of purely foreign-made cartoons.

"The fast development of the industry can be attributed to the governments favorable policies," Jin said.

The SARFT has banned foreign cartoons on prime-time television from Sept. 1 in a bid to protect the domestic animation industry.

Cartoons co-produced by domestic and foreign animation studios need to obtain approval from the SARFT to air from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m..

The SARFT has approved three cartoon channels since 2004 and the Guangzhou-based Southern TV Station will launch a new cartoon channel in September.

Broadcasters were told to limit use of foreign cartoons in 2000 at a time when Japanese animation dominated the market. In 2004, the government stepped up controls, saying Chinese cartoons had to account for at least 60 percent of the total shown in prime time.

Foreign cartoons, especially from Japan, are hugely popular with China's 250 million children, and the domestic animation studios are struggling to compete with a flood of imports.

Industry analysts say that thousands of skilled animators work in Chinese animation studios on projects subcontracted by the Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. and other Western or Japanese studios.

Analysts say Chinese cartoons lack originality and good storytelling, always trying to teach something while what children really want is entertainment rather than dull preaching.

(Xinhua News Agency August 25, 2006)

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