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Foreign cartoons banned from prime time
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China will extend its ban on foreign cartoons during prime time by an hour, its latest initiative to "spur the domestic cartoon industry", said a circular by the country's TV watchdog.

According to the circular issued by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), no foreign cartoons or programs introducing foreign cartoons can be shown from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., the "golden hours", on all domestic cartoon channels and children channels starting May 1.

The original ban, imposed by the SARFT in August 2006, required foreign cartoons to appear on TV only before 5 p.m. or after 8 p.m..

Cartoons co-produced by domestic and foreign producers will have to get approval from the SARFT to air between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. from May 1.

Only domestic cartoons approved by SARFT can be aired during the "golden hours", it said.

The ban will "enhance the SARFT's management over cartoon programs and will create a favorable environment for the domestic cartoon industry," the circular said.

China's cartoon industry produced more than 101,900 minutes of animation in 2007, a 23 percent jump over 2006 when the output was 81,000 minutes, according to the circular.

The first foreign cartoon introduced to China was Japan's "Astro Boy" series in 1981. Since then, a large quantity of foreign cartoons have flooded into China.

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

In 2004, the SARFT issued another regulation, requesting at least 60 percent of cartoon programs aired in a quarter to be domestic.

In September 2006, the SARFT decided to ban all foreign cartoons from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.. The regulation resulted in a sharp decrease of foreign cartoons on local TV.

Aside from foreign cartoons, China has issued a series of bans over "vulgar" and horror videos, audio products, illegal sex-themed adverts and medical ads that over-exaggerated their effects.

It also requested in January last year the country's satellite TV broadcasters only screen "ethically inspiring TV series" during prime time, reflecting the reality of China in a positive way.

(Xinhua News Agency February 20, 2008)

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