China's Crackdown on Children's Shows: What You Need to Know

China's censors have a new target: kids' tv. Japanese tokusatsu series Ultraman Tiga has been scrubbed from streamers in the country, as authorities threaten to ban shows with the wrong kind of content.

What happened to Ultraman Tiga- The 1990s series, which features the enormously popular superhero Ultraman, became generally unavailable on Chinese video platforms last week. No explanation was given for its removal, but the state-run paper The Global Times noted: “Many netizens believe that the removal might have been caused by parents' complaints about violent content in the series.”

“Violent content”- Like most superhero shows, Ultraman Tiga features fights, explosions, and the like. Netizens didn't fail to notice that, just as the show disappeared, China's National Radio and Television Administration issued a statement condemning tv productions that contain violence, vulgarity, pornography, and the like.

What did the statement say- The broadcasting authority wants networks and streamers to show only “excellent cartoons with healthy content and promote truth, goodness, and beauty.” It added in a statement on its website, “Children and adolescents are the main audience groups of cartoons.”

Broadcasters should set up special child-friendly channels, it says, and kids' programs that fall short of its standards will be banned. The Global Times writes that China has “begun to explore a classification system” to distinguish kids' content from adult shows, which could be less regulated.

How have audiences reacted- The disappearance of Ultraman Tiga, which has many fans in China, has proved controversial. Some on social media argue that what violence the show contains doesn't detract from its positive messages, while others speak of double standards, pointing out that classical Chinese literature that's taught in schools also features violence and dark themes. A hashtag relating to the series's removal has been viewed more than 84 million times, reports CNN.

What other series could be targeted- We have some idea. In April, authorities in Jiangsu province published a report which listed 21 shows it said could affect children's growth. They included Peppa Pig, My Little Pony, Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures, and anime series Case Closed, as well as Ultraman Tiga.

Is this crackdown unusual- The Chinese government hasn't gone after kids' tv in quite this way before, but it tightly controls entertainment and media in the country - and increasingly so.

K-pop fan accounts have recently been removed, as has the online presence movie star Zhao Wei. The National Radio and Television Administration has called on broadcasters to avoid casting “effeminate men.” And the time children can spend playing video games is now officially restricted to one hour on Fridays, weekends, and holidays.