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China gets tough on Simpsons

Mickey Mouse also hit by primetime ban

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China has decided to ban foreign cartoons from primetime TV slots in an attempt to protect its indigenous animation industry, the BBC reports.

From 1 September, imports such as The Simpsons and Mickey Mouse will not be aired between 5pm and 8pm, a proscription which carries the added benefit of reducing local kids' exposure to the "effects of foreign culture".

The powers that be have already decided to clamp down on programmes using a mixture of animation and live action, which could hit the Teletubbies hard, the BBC notes.

The latest decision forms part of an ongoing battle to compete with extra-Chinese cartoons, notably those from Japan. In 2000, the Japanese invasion prompted an edict ordering broadcasters to "limit the use of foreign cartoons". Two years ago, the authorities further demanded that 60 per cent of animations shown at peak time had to be home-grown.

The problem for China's own cartoon industry is, as the Beeb explains, that it has yet to create noteworthy characters such as the infernal Disney mouse or Homer Simpson. Instead, it focuses on traditional product such as Journey to the West, following the adventures of the Monkey King.

Some Chinese commentators are, furthermore, sceptical that a ban will do anything to improve matters. The Southern Metropolis News offered: "This is a worrying, shortsighted policy and will not solve the fundamental problems in China's cartoon industry. The viewing masses, whether adults or children, will have no choice but to passively support Chinese products."

The Chinese authorities should also note that moving the Teletubbies to a post-watershed slot may do little to reduce the "effects of foreign culture". Younger readers may recall that UK clubbers - crazed on Ecstasy, and Vodka and Red Bull - developed a penchant for late-night Laa-Laa worship sessions which at one point, according to The Daily Mail, threatened the very fabric of UK society. ®

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