A Russian national channel said Thursday it would censor “The Simpsons” cartoon series to comply with a new law banning scenes of violence, drinking and smoking before a late evening watershed.
The 2×2 channel, aimed at young adults, told AFP it would cut scenes where the Simpsons family watches a spoof ultra-violent cartoon called “The Itchy & Scratchy Show” after the law comes into force on Friday.
“Under the new law we cannot show ‘The Itchy & Scratchy Show’ from ‘The Simpsons’” before 11 pm, said general director Lev Makarov.
“We will retouch in an ironic way all the programmes where there are scenes that fall under the new law. For example we will black-out the screen and write a joky message in a rolling caption.”
Makarov added that the channel would move all its showings of another US cartoon, “South Park”, to after the watershed because of a recurring joke about one of the characters being murdered each episode.
“All the scenes from ‘South Park’ where ‘they killed Kenny’ should disappear until 11 pm. So ‘South Park’ will air after 11 pm,” he said.
The wide-ranging law on “protecting children from information causing harm to their health and development” says that scenes encouraging children to try drugs, tobacco or alcohol or justifying violence must not be shown until 11 pm.
It won wide criticism from Russia’s Internet companies with amendments signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in July that allow the state to create a black list of websites and enforce their closure.
It is not the first time that the 2×2 channel has faced legal difficulties over its cartoons.
In 2008, Moscow prosecutors charged 2×2 with extremism over a Christmas-themed episode of “South Park” after a complaint was filed by members of a conservative group, but the charges were eventually thrown out.