Return of the Pocket Monsters;Briefing

24th April 1998 at 01:00
JAPAN

A cartoon that was suspended after causing convulsions in hundreds of children has returned to TV screens.

An episode of the hugely popular children's cartoon Pocket Monsters ("Pokemon"), broadcast on December 6, sent nearly 700 of its viewers to hospital. The programme included rapidly flashing scenes that had appeared to be nothing more than normal computer graphics to its producers.

TV Tokyo - who made the original series - said the new episodes have been made under stricter guidelines limiting the use of potentially dangerous visuals, including flashing lights.

An investigation launched soon after the incident called on British photosensitive epilepsy expertProfessor Graham Harding at Aston University.

Professor Harding helped Britain's Independent Television Committee to redraft its guidelines after three people had seizures and 25 complained of feeling sick after watching a TV commercial for Golden Wonder pot noodles in April 1993.

The Pokemon cartoon andnoodle advert both featured sequences of rapid flashes, which, the ITC concluded, triggeredphotosensitive epilepsy.

Japan's public television network and the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan said it had compiled new guidelines restricting flashes to three times per second, and banning the use of extreme red flashes. Viewers have been advised to sit at least two metres away from TV screens.

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