Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Russian TV channel avoid ban after airing South Park and The Simpsons, censorship goes international.

Russian TV channel avoid ban after airing South Park, The Simpsons, UPDATED Sep 27, 2008 8:36am AEST .  A Russian channel under fire from prosecutors and religious groups for airing South Park and The Simpsons has kept its licence, RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing an official involved in the decision.

"We unanimously recommended the extension of the licence [of 2x2 channel]," Mikhail Seslavinsky, a member of the Federal Competition Commission for Television and Radio Broadcasting, was quoted as saying by the news agency.

Fans had staged protests in support of the channel, fearing that the commission would take 2x2 off the air next month after a campaign by religious groups against the irreverent US cartoons. But the channel still faces a criminal investigation on charges of extremism for broadcasting the notoriously foul-mouthed South Park.

The Prosecutor General's office released a statement fiercely critical of the channel this month, saying: "The cartoons broadcast by 2x2 propagandise violence, cruelty, pornography and anti-social behaviour." In the run-up to Wednesday's ruling, teenagers dressed in black - some with studs and punk haircuts, others dressed as South Park characters - protested in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, the two cities where the channel is shown.

Religious activists heading the campaign against the channel say its cartoons are offensive to their Muslim faith. "I've got no problem with my sense of humour, but any satire has its limits," Konstantin Bendas - a Pentecostal pastor who is heading the campaign and has written a formal complaint to prosecutors - told AFP. "If Christian communion is compared to eating faeces, is that funny," he asked, referring to an episode of South Park. The activists have found support from some Members of Parliament from the ruling United Russia party, who have blasted the cartoons as pornography.

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