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Cover Stories Series 2011> Tibet 60 Years On> Archive
UPDATED: July 18, 2011 NO. 29 JULY 21, 2011
A Gift for Tibetan Children
The first Tibetan language cartoon program airs on TV

Posters of the Star Cat series (FILE)

The first Tibetan language cartoon program, Star Cat Animation City, began airing on Kamba Tibetan language satellite TV (KTLSTV) in Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in northwest China's Sichuan Province. The half-hour program is broadcast at 6 p.m. every day. The cartoons are mainly domestic animations such as the popular Star Cat series. It is reported that some other domestic animation, such as The Bright Moon of Qin Dynasty and Happy Farm will also soon be broadcast by the channel.

The cartoons are warmly welcomed by Tibetan children. Zhao Yu, an editor of the KTLSTV channel said, "We have received many letters from our young Tibetan viewers. They have all become fans of our program. Many Tibetan children are, for the first time, watching cartoons they like and can fully understand through this program."

"We all like watching Star Cat very much. The first thing for us after school is watching cartoons. We also know Star Cat is a cartoon star nationwide," a Tibetan child said in a letter.

The KTLSTV began to operate on October 28, 2009. The channel serves about 2.4 million people in the Kamba Tibetan language-speaking areas in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan and Gansu provinces. Because it has recently opened, it lacks program resources, especially for children. Star Cat Animation City is no doubt a great gift for Tibetan children. Though the cartoons are translated from Mandarin Chinese, they are loved by local children.

The launch of the cartoon is encouraging but several difficulties lie ahead. "the most difficult thing is finding resources for programs," said Zhao. She said there are so few companies engaging in minority language animation because it is hard to look for the right persons to do the dubbing and master the content of animation.

The animation industry has boomed in recent years in China. Nevertheless, very few companies are willing to explore the minority language animation market. The Central Government does allocate funds for producing minority language TV programs. However, because of limited audiences, advertising agencies pay little attention to this market segment. For example, the KTLSTV is really uncertain investment in this segment could get a viable market return. Thus, currently the operation of the KTLSTV mainly relies on support from the government's financial budget.

With economic development, the demand for cultural life among people in minority nationality regions of China increases day by day, especially requirements for cultural products in their own ethnic languages. Given this trend, there is great potential for the development of cultural markets in minority nationality regions.

Lu Hao, General Manager of Baihui Entertainment Technology Co. Ltd., said, "Though the quantity of the animations, films and books about minority nationalities is not that large, the interest in this category of cultural products is still intense. For example, the book The Tibet Code, which is set in Tibet, is very popular among readers."

Baihui Entertainment is now the animation provider of the KTLSTV. Most of the animation it provides to the channel is free. "We have made lots of animations for Tibetan children, including cartoons about education, adventures and fairy tales. We will provide animations to the channel free for a whole year. The total length of animation will be more than 10,000 minutes," said Lu.

Lu hopes one day the cartoons will make a profit through some kind of business model, which will be very helpful for the further development of the minority nationality language cultural market.

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