China gets animated

SARFT's hopes to cut dependence on foreign animators

BEIJING — China will create 13 animation centers to boost local production.

The sites will include four colleges and nine studios, such as Shanghai Animation Film Studio, the nation’s largest domestic producer of animation, and Beijing Film Academy.

“The establishment of these bases is a major step for the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) to accelerate the development of China’s animation industry,” the regulator’s director Xu Guangchun said in a Dec. 6 report by China Daily, a state-run English-language newspaper.

It’s SARFT’s latest effort to cut China’s dependence on foreign animators to satisfy the nation’s increasing demand for children’s programming.

This year, broadcasters in Beijing, Shanghai and Hunan province rolled out children’s channels with government approval and encouragement.

Foreign broadcasters have also pacted to supply and develop children’s programming in China. Viacom’s Nickelodeon tied-up with Shanghai Media Group (SMG) to co-produce Chinese-language content for domestic consumption.

Although technically illegal when signed in March, such agreements are now valid, thanks to SARFT approval of minority participation of foreign companies in domestic production.

“It is a marvelous first step,” says Hanya Kim, managing partner, Intrepid Intl. Partners, an investment fund that outsources animation to China.

She says the move is not a cause for concern among animators in the U.S. and other outsource locations such as South Korea. “It’s so early that it’s not a threat now.”

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