BEIJING: China's media watchdogs are cracking down on foreign animated cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse and SpongeBob SquarePants to protect, they claim, the nation's domestic animation industry.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has decreed that foreign cartoons or programs introducing foreign cartoons cannot be shown during "the golden hours" between 5pm and 9pm on all TV cartoon channels and children's channels.

The new rules, which come into effect May 1, are part of the Beijing regime's tightening of its grip on the country's media.

It has also outlawed "vulgar" and horror videos, audio products, illegal sex-themed ads and misleading medical commercials.

In addition, the censors have insisted satellite TV broadcasters only screen "ethically inspiring TV series" during primetime, reflecting the image of China in a positive way.

Data sourced from Shanghai Daily; additional content by WARC staff