After Xinwen Lianbo, the flagship news program of China Central Television (CCTV), singled out two cartoons Xiyangyang and Huitailang (Pleasant Goat and Grey Wolf) and Xiongchumo (Boonie Bears) on Saturday, and criticized them for containing violence and vulgar language, a debate quickly emerged over requirements for children's programs.
CCTV reported that the creators of the shows are making changes to the programs. Xiyangyang is produced by Creative Power Entertaining (CPE) based in Guangzhou, and Xiongchumo is produced by the Shenzhen Huaqiang Digital Animation Company.
A staff member with CPE declined to comment to the Global Times on Monday but said the company would respond at the appropriate time.
However, a manager surnamed Liu with the Huaqiang animation company told the Global Times that the company realized it had room for improvement.
Liu said that the company used some pranks too much, and main characters had sometimes engaged in verbal abuse.
"We focused too much on how to make the plots funny. But we have made some changes since the cartoon began broadcasting and we are making changes these days as requested by government organizations," Liu told the Global Times.
He provided specifics by saying that they are willing to make improvements to both the dialogue and the plots, and said they may change phrasing from "smelly black bear" to "little bear" and change plot lines such as entering houses when the owners are not at home.
Violence is also at the center of the issue. After a tragic case in which two brothers, aged 5 and 8 years old, were tied to a tree and set on fire by a 9-year-old boy and were seriously burnt in a village near Lianyungang in Jiangsu Province in April, the victims' father blamed Xiyangyang for the violence.
In a five-minute video presentation he submitted during a civil court case against the offender's father and CPE in June, the plaintiff assembled clips from Series 1 to 170 - over 500 episodes - and claimed that in this period the wolf had been hit with a frying pan over 9,000 times and the goat had been boiled over 800 times.
"Even if only one kid imitates the cartoons, we should try to prevent this from happening," the Beijing Times cited cartoon director Yu Shengjun as saying, adding that the producers were at fault.
The State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television on Saturday said that 20 cartoon producing companies and broadcast institutions have vowed not to produce or broadcast cartoons containing violent or vulgar content, dangerous plots or foul language.
Standards for the content of Chinese animated cartoons are expected to be introduced this year by the administration.