New Russian Child-Protection Law Hits TV Channels

Broadcasters are forced to make changes to their programming, including "The Simpsons" and "South Park."

MOSCOW -- A controversial child protection law that comes into force in Russia as of Sept.1 is to hit TV stations as they will no longer be able to air some of content previously intended for children before 11 p.m.

The new law specifically targets the depiction of violence, sex and characters consuming tobacco, alcohol and using profanity, prompting TV stations to reconsider their programming.

The TV channel 2x2, which specializes in imported cartoon series, plans to cut some violent parts from Itchy & Scratchy, “a cartoon within a cartoon” in The Simpsons, and to move the airings of South Park to time slots after 11 p.m., Lev Makarov, 2x2’s general director, was quoted as saying by the Russian News Service.

Incidentally, four years ago, the channel came under attack from the authorities for allegedly “extremist” content of some of the South Park episodes it had broadcasted and even faced the revoking of it license, but the controversy eventually died down.

Meanwhile, some popular Russian cartoons could be found illegal under the new law, as well. The state-run television company VGTRK will have to air the popular Soviet-time cartoon series Nu, Pogodi! (I’ll Get You) only after 11 p.m., the Ekho Moskvy FM station reported. In just about every scene of the series, one of the two main characters, Wolf, is shown smoking a cigarette.

“We have two options: to break the law or to show it late at night,” Tatyana Tsyvareva, head of children and youth programming at VGTRK, was quoted as saying in the report.

The maximum punishment for companies for breaking the new law is stipulated to be suspension of operations for up to 90 days.