China applies toon taboos

Animated combos nixed

Jessica Rabbit isn’t welcome in China — and Michael Jordan shouldn’t show up with any of his Looney Toons pals.

In one of the more bizarre orders from China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, TV shows and films featuring human thesps with animated companions will be banned.

“These human live-action, so-called animation pieces will not receive distribution or distribution licenses,” read the order, issued Feb. 15. However, films and shows that have already received permits will continue to air.

CGI and 2-D characters alongside human actors jeopardize “the broadcast order of homemade animation and mislead their development,” according to a report from the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Order comes as the Chinese government attempts to increase local production of Mandarin-language toons and cut the amount of foreign animated programming appearing on Chinese television.

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

“Sarft’s notice is a clear indicator that, despite government support, the local animation industry is still struggling,” said David Wolf, CEO of Beijing-based consultancy Wolf Group Asia. “Unfortunately, simply clearing more airtime isn’t going to make the product any better or more competitive.”

Chinese regulatory authorities are notoriously skittish regarding broadcast and film themes that include the supernatural or fantasy, including talking animals. “Babe” was banned on the basis that animals can’t talk and some viewers would be confused.