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China opts to toon out

Foreign kid toons exiled from primetime

BEIJING — China’s top media regulator has exiled popular foreign kid toons — ranging from “The Simpsons” to “Pokemon” — from primetime as part of an ongoing clampdown on foreign media. Beginning Sept. 1, Chinese children can watch only domestic fare during the “golden hours” between 5 and 8 p.m. every day, according to a new rule by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. Move comes at a time when foreign producers are trying to find a way to increase their market share in China despite an increasingly restrictive legislative environment.

Ban applies not only to Hollywood fare but also to Japanese cartoons, the Beijing News reported. While Chinese Central TV airs only Chinese toons, some of the more adventurous local channels air dubbed versions of “Blue’s Clues,” as well as Disney animation featuring Mickey Mouse and Japanese, Korean and European cartoons.

Co-productions between domestic and foreign producers will require special permission to air during primetime.

Japanese cartoons are hugely popular in the country; domestic animation such as “Monkey King,” based on Chinese mythology, has struggled for traction.

The Chinese government is keen to boost the local production of Mandarin-language toons. Sarft already has a quota on foreign toons, requiring that at least 60% of animated skeins on Chinese television be domestically produced. Broadcasters can acquire only one foreign animation title for each they produce in China.

But national and provincial children’s channels are struggling to acquire enough content to meet demand or even fill their own programming schedules.

Many Chinese animators work on toons outsourced by such Hollywood studios as Disney and Warner Bros.

In February, Sarft imposed a ban on shows and films featuring human thesps with animated companions.

(Wire services contributed to this report.)

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