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Mickey Mouse And Donald Duck Make Their TV Debut In China

October 26, 1986

PEKING (AP) _ Many Chinese prefer their ducks roasted, but on Sunday 8-year-old Feng Shuo and his 12-year-old sister, Ye, had just as good a time watching a duck named Donald take a good ribbing.

The Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck cartoon show made its debut on China’s CCTV Sunday night. The half-hour show will be broadcast once a week and is expected to draw an audience of about 30 million.

″I liked the duck″ said Ye, who laughed throughout as Donald tricked the hapless dog Pluto into trying ice-skating, was saved from falling off a waterfall by Mickey and then took a smack on the head from Goofy, another Walt Disney favorite.

″Cartoons are my favorite program, but this is the most interesting,″ said Shuo. Japanese cartoons, including the popular Ikkyu-san, and the American series ″The Smurfs″ are among the foreign cartoons that have appeared on Chinese television.

″I thought this was very good,″ said Ku Yunfeng, a teacher and the grandfather of Ye and Shuo.

Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner said earlier this week that the Mickey and Donald show would be aired for the next two years. He said an agreement between Disney and CCTV calls for the two companies to share revenues from commercials being sold, mainly to foreign companies.

″I hope that this will be the beginning of a long and successful relationship with the Chinese people,″ Eisner said.

He said Disney considered China a potentially large market for Disney merchandise once the characters become popularized through television.

Disney President Frank Wells told a news conference that China has been ″one of the great vacuums″ for the American entertainment corporation.

″There are at least three generations of children in China who grew up not knowing who Mickey, Minnie and Donald were,″ he said.

CCTV Deputy Director Hong Minsheng said the government-run station made the agreement with Disney because ″Chinese children need to absorb various kinds of good nourishment.″

Hong said Mickey and Donald are already well-known in China.

One of the reasons is widespread pirating of the characters. For example, large figures of Mickey and Donald can be found outside the Friendship Store, the food and department store for foreigners along Peking’s main thoroughfare.

″A principle purpose of this trip was to deal with the trademark issue,″ Wells said. ″It’s a matter of grave concern to us and should be, and we believe is, a matter of concern to the People’s Republic.″

China passed a trademark law in 1983 and is now working on a copyright law.

CCTV also has signed agreements with CBS to air the news program ″60 Minutes,″ the series ″Animal World″ and various professional sports events. It also struck a deal with the British Broadcasting Corp. to air dramas and documentaries.

About 300 million of China’s 1 billion people have access to television.

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