Cartoon Channel Cancels 2 Shows

2x2tv.ruA frame from "Happy Tree Friends," a cartoon show pulled by 2x2 television.
The cartoon channel 2x2 has yanked two animated programs from its rotation after being warned by the federal media watchdog that the shows promote a "cult of violence and brutality."

The Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency issued an official warning to 2x2 over the cartoons "Happy Tree Friends" and "The Adventures of Big Jeff" because it is "absolutely against the law to promote cruelty," agency spokesman Yevgeny Strelchik said Wednesday.

Under Russian law, a second warning could result in the channel having its license revoked.

Roman Sarkisov, the head of 2x2, said the cartoons had been pulled from the air as of Tuesday evening. He maintained, however, that they had been shown at appropriate hours and with proper disclaimers.

"I would say they are for people aged 14 and older, and we show them after 11 p.m., so children should not be watching," Sarkisov said. "Parents should be the ones held responsible for leaving their children alone with television."

2x2, which is owned by Vladimir Potanin's Prof-Media, began broadcasting Western cartoons in translation in April 2007.

While cartoons shown on the channel -- such as "The Simpsons," "Family Guy" and "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" -- cater to adults, the federal media watchdog said "Happy Tree Friends" and "The Adventures of Big Jeff" damage the "health, morals and spiritual development of a child" as well as "public morals," according to a statement on the agency's web site.

"Happy Tree Friends" chronicles the adventures of a group of cuddly animals whose "daily adventures always end up going horribly wrong," according to the show's web site. The shorts often end in animated bloodshed. The title protagonist in "The Adventures of Big Jeff" is a naked Australian.

Before each episode, 2x2 would broadcast a warning that children should not view the programs.

Strelchik conceded that "Happy Tree Friends" and "The Adventures of Big Jeff" were not more violent than numerous other programs on Russian television. But he said they violated the letter of the law and that, because they are cartoons, they are more likely to be seen by children.

"It doesn't matter that the channel isn't directed at children," he said.

It is not the first case of Western cartoons being accused of violating media laws.

In April 2005, Moscow's Khamovniki District Court threw out lawsuit by a private citizen, Igor Smykov, against Ren-TV, which he accused of corrupting his 6-year-old son by broadcasting "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy."

The judge rejected Smykov's claim that the cartoons promoted a degenerate lifestyle.