China moves to ban “Unhealthy” Cartoons in broadcast media

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China’s broadcasting regulator has announced intentions to block media produced as cartoons in a clampdown on “unhealthy content” as Beijing steps up efforts to bring its thriving entertainment industry under control.

In a notice posted on Friday, the National Radio and Television Administration, the country’s broadcasting authority, announced that it would ban cartoons and other TV shows primarily produced for children that contain any mention of violence, blood, vulgarity or pornography.

According to the notice, TV channels must “resolutely resist bad plots,” and instead only broadcast “excellent cartoons with healthy content and promote truth, goodness and beauty,” said the authority in a statement on its website.

China’s ruling Communist party has stepped up a campaign to clean up its entertainment industry in recent months, taking action against “online idols” and promising tougher penalties for celebrities who engage in illegal or unethical behaviour.

The campaigns have been part of a wider effort to intervene in all aspects of the country’s culture and economy, with the government also promising to tackle inequality, soaring property prices and profit-seeking education institutions.

The regulator appears also to be concerned about the broader societal culture shaped by young Chinese people’s consumption of celebrity news and entertainment shows, and its potential to run against the current values promoted in China.

Several weeks ago, the authorities banned some reality shows, restricted social media fan culture, and ordered broadcasters to resist “abnormal aesthetics” such as “sissy” men. They have also targeted what they deem to be “vulgar influencers”, stars’ inflated pay and performers with “lapsed morals”.

President Xi Jinping ordered sweeping action to clean up the entertainment industry, with the broadcast regulator moving to ban film stars with “incorrect” politics, cap salaries and rein in celebrity fan culture.

Television companies and internet platforms were told to “strictly control the selection of program actors and guests, and uphold political literacy, moral conduct, artistic level and social evaluation as selection standards.”

While China’s media regulators frequently warn against “vulgar and obscene” content, the latest moves indicate the government is ramping up oversight, zoning in on what state media outlets have characterized as “improper” idol worship, excessive wealth held by some and dubious tax practices.

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